'THE MOSTTEMPERATE, REASONED AND CONSTRUCTIVE...'
'EDITORIALSTATESMANSHIP AT ITS BEST...'
I have read with more than ordinary interest the two articles, The CollegeFootball Crisis (SI, Aug. 6 & 13). The editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED andHerman Hickman are to be complimented for the most temperate, reasoned andconstructive article on intercollegiate football which has appeared in many amoon. In presenting the candid viewpoints of college presidents, coaches andalumni boosters you have given a graphic picture of the present uncertainty andunrest which characterize many segments of the college game.
The success ofthis article was due in no small part to the motivation which prompted it,namely, "a strong and enduring attachment to the game." It is this samemotivation which leads me to comment at some length on your article and toencourage you to press home your aspirations for football's future health andvitality. In your "Nine Points for Survival" you have provided arealistic framework which, if scrupulously followed by all colleges, would sooneliminate the major abuses which are now a plague to the game.
August 26, 1956
The chief meritto your nine points is the fact that they are practical, workable and wouldstrengthen rather than weaken the intercollegiate football program of anyuniversity with the courage to adopt them. Why am I so certain about this?Simply because they happen to coincide in almost every respect with the basicregulations which have guided our football destinies at Notre Dame (notunsuccessfully we think) for many decades:
1) A prospectiveathlete must meet the standard entrance requirements of the university. We losemany excellent high school athletes to state institutions whose entrancerequirements are not as strict as ours. We do not feel, however, that this is areal loss. In our experience the better students give superior performances onthe gridiron.
2) To be eligiblefor competition, an athlete must maintain a 77% academic average even though70% is a passing grade. This insures that he is making normal progress toward adegree. Only two letter men in the past decade have failed to graduate fromNotre Dame.
3) Allgrants-in-aid to athletes are administered directly by the university on thebasis of the student's need. Booster groups and alumni donations for athleticsare taboo. A coach who would encourage under-the-table help for a boy would besummarily dismissed. The alumnus who participated in anything like this wouldbe persona non grata at the university.
4) A boy'sgrant-in-aid will never exceed the basic costs of his education, namely, board,room, tuition, books and laundry. Under no circumstances do we permit a boy toreceive any cash benefits. If he accepted such emoluments he would lose hisscholarship, and if a coach were party to such a deal, either directly orindirectly, he would be fired.
5) A boy'sscholarship is not dependent upon his performance on the gridiron. Once he isgiven a scholarship it continues for four years whether he ever dons a footballuniform or not. Academic failure and disciplinary action are the sole causesfor cancellation of grants-in-aid. This policy is aimed at one of the mostserious abuses still prevalent in too many schools where a boy is given aone-year scholarship which is not renewed if he fails to make the team.
6) A boy isineligible for participation in football after he has completed eight semesters(four years) of school work. This rule is aimed at another abuse wherebycoaches keep a boy in school for five or six years until he has exhausted histhree years of eligibility for competition.
7) Bowl games arenot permitted on the theory that they unduly prolong the football season andadversely affect the academic work of the athlete.
8) Footballplayers live in the regular student dormitories and eat in the regular studentdining hall. In every respect, they are completely integrated with the generalstudent body and are neither glorified nor belittled by the latter.
9) The athleticdepartment has neither juridical nor financial independence. Its revenues aredeposited with the general . funds of the university. Its expenditures arebudgeted in advance and subject to the same controls as all other departmentsof the university.
10) No transferstudent is permitted to participate in intercollegiate athletics at Notre Dame.This rule is to discourage the tramp athlete who is always ready to move fromone campus to another.
As you know, theUniversity of Notre Dame is not a member of any conference. However, because ofthe benefits to be derived from intercollegiate football, both for theparticipant and for the university, we have tried to govern ourselves by abasic set of principles which will protect these values and forestall theserious abuses which obviously can arise. We are greatly . encouraged by thesoundness of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S thinking in this turbulent area, and we arehappy to endorse its "Nine Points for Survival" with all the enthusiasmwe can muster.
(REV.) EDMUND P. JOYCE, C.S.C.
Chairman, Faculty Board in Control of Athletics
Notre Dame, Ind.
Herman Hickman's articles about the problems in college football and his soundrecommendations are an outstanding example of constructive editing. This iseditorial statesmanship at its best. The effect will be long-lasting andwidespread, and the influence will be felt on every college campus and in everyalumni group in the country.
I believe thesearticles will mark a turning point in the effort of many ex-football players,thoughtful coaches, athletic directors and college presidents to restorecollege football to an amateur basis.
Your articlesplace the blame for competitive recruitment policies where it belongs—on thosecollege presidents who mistakenly try to buy a college's reputation throughfootball teams rather than educational integrity. Too many condone practices inrecruitment that are contradictory to the ethics taught in the classroom. Thesepractices leave young men cynical, often regretting their college choicebecause they were not required to meet their college classmates on equal termsbut were treated like a group apart.
The SPORTSILLUSTRATED articles and increasing public indignation with "hiring"college football players, together with the constructive work that has beengoing on for a long time behind the scenes by the college commissioners, will,I believe, lead to drawing up new agreements in our regional college athleticassociations.
Yourrecommendations express a pattern of thought that could well be used as aguide. But any new agreements will be broken once again unless strong publicsupport, and more particularly alumni support, is developed.
The FootballFoundation, through its local chapters from coast to coast and its 3,500members, has been engaged in an effort, modest in the beginning but sound inits concept, to see that the young high school boy and his parents know thatcollege football is part of an educational process and not a preparation forprofessional football.
It is our viewthat college football is an institution that is unique in American life. Itcontributes a place for building a spirit of self-discipline, sacrifice forprinciple and teamwork. Here is provided the proving ground to test one's fiberand to develop the will for striving.
Football as ourmost important sport sets a pattern for all amateur sport. We stronglyrecommend that the spirit of amateurism be held before every high school andcollege boy as a worthy goal. Our definition of an amateur is a man who seeksno reward other than the opportunity to develop his own resources. He asks forno other honor than to develop his capacities to the full and then to testthose capacities against the best. In the final analysis, in our competitiveeconomy, brains may be rudderless without a competitive heart.
Your concern, andHerman Hickman's, with college football is one for which many will be mostappreciative. It increases the stature and position of importance of SPORTSILLUSTRATED and its usefulness to the nation.
C. J. LaROCHE
Chairman, Natl. Football
Foundation and Hall of Fame
New Brunswick, N.J.
ON BEHALF OF MY STAFF AND MYSELF, I WANT TO COMMEND SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOR THETWO OUTSTANDING ARTICLES BY HERMAN HICKMAN ON PROBLEMS IN INTERCOLLEGIATEATHLETICS. I AM SURE THAT BOTH ARTICLES WERE READ WITH CONSIDERABLE INTERESTAND THOUGHT BY THE MAJORITY OF OUR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, ATHLETIC DIRECTORSAND COACHES THROUGHOUT THE NATION. I BELIEVE ALSO THAT THE ARTICLES HELPED TOALERT THE GENERAL PUBLIC ON SOME OF THE SERIOUS PROBLEMS WE MUST CONTEND WITHIN INTERCOLLEGIATE FOOTBALL. CONGRATULATIONS TO YOUR FINE MAGAZINE FORCONTINUED EXCELLENT REPORTING OF OUR NATIONAL SPORTS PICTURE.
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR AND HEAD FOOTBALL COACH, GEORGIA TECH
As one who has done considerable recruiting of athletes, I find your CollegeFootball Crisis factual reading. Between the pressure on coaches to win and theineptitude of college academicians, football is in a mess.
Here in theSouthwestern Conference, we have the trouble cured among our own colleges. Therules are simply and generally observed, though Texas A & M is presently onprobation for violations. It has been found more sensible to give an athleticscholarship openly than to subsidize athletes unequally and/or secretly. Ourconference specifies exactly what may be offered athletes, and it applies toall alike.
Our biggestproblem is what to do about colleges on the outside like Oklahoma U, athird-rate college with a first-rate football team. (Don't bet on Notre Damewhen they meet!) This year Oklahoma has raided Texas from Amarillo to Tyler—461miles. Oklahoma is now on a two-year probation by the NCAA for violations.Their own Big Seven Conference refused to act.
Any lasting curefor football recruiting ills must be national in scope, preferably through theNCAA. Letters of intent signed by athletes with a college in one conferenceshould be honored by colleges of all conferences.
Your nine-pointprogram to save the game should bring constructive thought, but two of yourpoints are impractical. Point 2 requiring an athlete to show economic needbefore receiving an athletic scholarship would require a sworn CPA report on afamily's finances to be effective and then an appraisal by a board of expertsto determine the percentage of aid to be offered. Such percentage would have tobe observed by all the colleges in the nation.
Point 7 wouldrequire athletes with scholarships to make good progress in their studies. Didit not occur to you that study requirements vary markedly with colleges? Afailing student in one college changes to another and does fairly well with noextra effort. I have known this to occur often. If your idea were adopted, theeasy colleges would acquire all the good, dumb football players. And there is aheap of 'em.
Congratulations on your sharp, clear, two-part analysis of collegefootball.
The very heart ofthis problem is clearly indicated in your "Nine Points forSurvival"—for Points 3 and 7 (of major importance) are simply andirrevocably in conflict. You insist that the goal of the college athlete isidentical with that of other college students, i.e., academic and intellectualattainment, leading to a degree (Point 7).
Such attainmentis not the automatic privilege of all; it must be bought with the student'sdesire, work and money. If he seeks higher education, he must assume theresponsibility of its cost through 1) summer earnings, 2) family aid, 3)scholarships awarded on the basis of intellectual attainment, 4) part-time workduring the school year and 5) loans to be repaid after graduation. This is thenormal way, if, as you have stated, intellectual achievement is the normal andimportant college goal.
But then it iscertainly not normal (Point 3) that, because of an incidental ability(athletics), a student should be relieved of "his normal college expensessuch as board, room, tuition and fees, books, laundry and dry cleaning."This could be tolerated only if the football player were regarded in the samelight (and given the same publicity and honor) as the student working in thecollege cafeteria or library (and if the latter received the samebenefits).
Until and unlessthis basic problem in higher education is confronted squarely, there can be nosolution to the problem of college football and all athletics.
ROYCE J. SCHERF
Pastor, St. Peter's Lutheran Church Pilger, Neb.
The last verse of Football's Answer by Grantland Rice is a good answer to AsaBushnell, the Ivy League and other frustrated puritans:
In the headline's stirring plea.
Perhaps I'm more important
Than a mere game ought to be;
But with all the sins they speak of,
And the list is quite a span,
I'm the soul of college spirit,
And the maker of a man.
RICHARD A. KATZMAN
State College, Pa.
As a regular reader and subscriber to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and member of the ABL(Amateur Bicycle League of America), I am writing to congratulate both WilliamMcHale and John Sadovy for their splendid coverage of the Tour de France in theAug. 13 issue. Mr. McHale has unearthed more background material than I havebeen able to collect for years on this Gallic sports classic. Moreover, he hascaptured the spirit that perpetuates such an annual event. This is indeed aglorious answer to the letter I wrote one year ago requesting such a featurearticle....
MRS. EARL BEECHER
If any eligible American participant signs Avery Brundage's "futurepurity" pledge (E & D, Aug. 13), there are many people who havecontributed to make their Olympic trips possible who will be sorelydisappointed. I personally would rather see the U.S. go unrepresented in theOlympic Games than see our American youth bow to the celluloid-collar ideas ofa man who seeks to dictate what course they can follow in their futurelives.
The day whensport belonged only to the "lace-pants" set has long since departed. Itis a shame that all who have contributed to the Olympic Fund have no recoursefor a refund of their contributions so that Avery could foot the bill as wellas impose his peculiar ideas of what constitutes an amateur on the world.
I sincerely hopethat there are enough moral guts in our athletes to refuse to bow to thisoutrageous invasion of their personal lives, and somehow I feel there willbe.
This is surely the last straw! People have generally been fed up with AveryBrundage and his stumbling, bumbling efforts for a long time. But if thecountry needed further evidence of his incompetence, his latest "amateurintent" code decree should provide final documentation.
There iscertainly nothing objectionable about being a professional athlete at theproper time if you are good enough and if you so desire. In fact, it issomething that is identified with and makes a great contribution to theAmerican way of life, Mr. Brundage notwithstanding.
Yes, Mr.Brundage, we thank you for your good intentions and past services, but please,for the good of the country, find other outlets for your misdirectedenergies.
J. NELSON KING
BLAST FROM THEMAJORS
The article by Gil Stratton on umpiring (SI, Aug. 6) did nothing to enhance ourprofession.
I do not believearticles such as this one can help our business. As far as I am concerned, thearticle would lead the public to believe that the umpire actually cheats on theplays mentioned by Gil Stratton.
Secondly, in myopinion, this man is not qualified to make the comments he does, since I wouldsay he is only a "part-time" umpire.
It would seem tome that a magazine with national coverage such as yours enjoys would contactsome major league umpire to obtain an experienced version of just whattranspires on the field.
National League Umpire
Port Huron, Mich.
Congratulations on your fine article, for it emphasizes the fact that umpiresare only human, and even though they make mistakes they do what they think isright.
I read your magazine each week and I think quite a bit of it, but this articlemakes me unhappy.
Take a look atthe caption above the picture on page 27. It says "BAD YEAR FOR THEUMPIRES." This article doesn't help the arbiter a bit, either.
I fault UmpireStratton for the story, too. I am only 23, but I have been in this racket as asemipro and professional for six years. Maybe I'm not qualified to be at oddswith a man who has been in the profession for many more years than I, but whyshould I jeopardize what peace the umpire has by saying the officialintentionally blows plays. Maybe the players in the Pacific Coast League won'tjump on him, but players in semipro ball and the lower minors around thecountry spend half their time looking for some excuse to land right square inthe middle of the umpire.
I disagree, too,with the classification of ballplayers set forth by Mr. Stratton. He left outthe largest and most disagreeable group—the alibi men. The guy who takes apitch right down the gut and turns around and tells you that you are blind faroutnumbers the chronic beefer, the cold calculator or the fellow who isactually mad. He's the kind who will latch on to an article like this and tearinto you the next time he doesn't pull the trigger on a gut ball or fails toslide into a bag.
I disagree withUmpire Stratton on a number of other items, too. The day that a man whoclobbers a home run stops running around the bases will be the day baseballdies in this country. The triumphal jog around the bases is as much a part ofthe game as the home run itself. The game is halted for only 15 seconds. Ifthis is too much time, then there isn't time to play the game, anyway.
If Mr. Strattonis so disgruntled with the wages paid in pro ball why doesn't he go back totelevision and forget the game of baseball exists? I hope that someday I willhit the big time. When I do I feel sure that I will survive on a measly $15,000a year, considering the league pays all my expenses.
Umpiring is anhonorable profession. It is a profession made up of 100% honest men. But if thelow standards and abuse continue unchecked, something will have to give. Whenthe umpires fail to measure up, then baseball as a game will fail to meet thehigh standards of the past. Thus I say to you—protect your officials, don'tbrowbeat them.