"Though thereis no direct connection between the Big Ten plan and the one proposed by SportsIllustrated, the similarity is amazing. We were delighted when we saw SportsIllustrated's Nine Points because they confirmed our thinking. When we readthem, we were struck with amazement by the fact that we paralleled so many ofthem. The editors of Sports Illustrated and Herman Hickman must have given theproblem the same combination of realism and idealism that our people didbecause we came out with the same points."
—BIG TEN COMMISSIONER KENNETH L. (Tug) WILSON
With these wordsthe head of America's oldest formal collegiate athletic organization, theWestern Conference or Big Ten, last week paid tribute to the recent efforts ofSPORTS ILLUSTRATED, on the eve of the current season, to provide a positive andhonest solution for the college football crisis. "To bring football back toits rightful place," was the announced aim of the survey of facts andopinions which the editors of this magazine carried out and which HermanHickman interpreted in two articles (SI, Aug. 6 and 13). College presidents,athletic directors, coaches, players and alumni from all over the countrycontributed to the survey, and the conclusions drawn from their statements weresummarized in the program, "Nine Points for Survival," reproduced onthe opposite page. It is now clear that for the leaders of the Big TenConference, after their deliberations on the results of their own seven-monthstudy of conditions prevailing among their numbers, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's ninepoints accomplished what the editors hoped they would: "To serve the causeof college football as it is played in America today and help to preserve it inthe name of the sportsmanship which should always be associated withit."
The Big Ten studyled to the issuance last week of a 24-page report on principles and practicewithin the conference, and an interim report on a proposed financial aidsprogram to guide the conference in the future. Tentative as yet, with manydetails still to be considered, revised or more thoroughly worked out, thisprogram nonetheless shows clearly in what direction the proposed reforms willgo: in virtually every respect the direction which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED saidfootball must go if it is to survive. A final version of the plan will bepresented at the conference meetings in December; it is hoped that therecommendations will be approved and in force by the 1957 season. By way ofcomparison, Commissioner Wilson this week went over SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's ninepoints one by one and made the following comments:
POINT ONE: Eachprospective football player in order to obtain an athletic scholarship must bequalified for admission the same as any other student. "We think we havethat at present."
POINT TWO: Theapplicant must show economic need. "That is the significant point in ourplan. But we are doing more than to state a principle. We are in a position toimplement it with the College Scholarship Service. This is the core of ourplan." In brief, the intention is to allow a player to receive in aid onlythe difference between his own resources—parental support and earnings—and thecost of his education at the school he chooses. On this basis, no universitycan exercise an advantage over a rival by offering a higher contribution inrelation to costs.
POINT THREE: Eachplayer should receive through regular institutional channels, and only throughthese channels, sufficient financial aid to take care of his normal collegeexpenses such as board, room, tuition and fees, books, laundry and drycleaning. "We have that in our regulations at present."
POINT FOUR: Allother financial aid, except that outlined in No. 3, is prohibited. "That isinherent in the Big Ten plan."
POINT FIVE: Theacceptance of any aid, except that outlined in No. 3, shall result in immediateexpulsion of the student involved. "I would prefer to see a boy declaredpermanently ineligible rather than expelled. However, we haven't discussed thepenalty as yet."
POINT SIX: Afixed percentage of athletic scholarships—we suggest 75%—should be reservedonly for boys in the conference territory of the college or university and itsenvirons. "We have not considered this because more than 75% of ourathletes come from the conference area. We do not think this is a problem forus."
POINT SEVEN: Toreceive an athletic scholarship and remain eligible for it, the recipient musttake a regular course of study, of his own choice, leading to a degree. He musttake a normal load of academic hours and maintain a satisfactory average.Before the beginning of his third year he must have attained the proper numberof credit hours and quality points to become a full-fledged member of thejunior class or his scholarship will be withdrawn. "We have that at thepresent time in our rules."
POINT EIGHT: Theresponsibility for proper practices of recruitment and subsidization of playersshould be placed squarely on the shoulders of the head football coach. "Inour plan, coaches are putting their jobs on the line if they deviate. So, forthat matter, are the schools; if investigation were to show that such deviationis part of a school's policy, in all likelihood the school would be thrown outof the conference."
POINT NINE: The"athletic dormitory" and the year-round training table should beabolished. "Under our present rules, the year-round training table isprohibited. The athletic dormitory does not exist in the Big Ten, though thereis no rule against it. But we would make one if necessary."
The six men whoworked on the Big Ten survey and drew up the tentative program for reform,which Commissioner Wilson was comparing with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Nine Pointsfor Survival, are all of them closely identified with the game. Their opinionscarry the full weight of experts who for years have stood on the firing line:H. O. (Fritz) Crisler of Michigan, Ivan Williamson of Wisconsin, Verne C.Freeman of Purdue, Leslie W. Scott of Michigan State and Commissioner Wilsonhimself. And there was no doubt that they shared SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's concernfor the future of the game. Facts and figures gathered in the seven months'investigation and published in their survey made the crisis threateninglyclear:
RECRUITMENT:"Out of 258 Conference football lettermen in 1955, 246 had been interviewedor corresponded with prior to matriculation, by football staff members. Of theremaining 12, only six came to college with no knowledge on the part of thefootball staffs of their college intentions.... In other words, more than 95%had been actively recruited and almost 98% had been screened.
"Campusvisits prior to matriculation for the purpose of interviews with coachingstaffs are the rule. A survey indicates upwards of 500 prospectivestudent-athletes will visit each Conference school this year.... Entertainmentof prospects in 1946 was an incidental expense, but for the current yearaverages almost $5,000, running as high as $13,600. Whereas in 1946 it wasexceptional for visiting [prospects] to be provided meals or lodging, todayover 95% receive either or both.
"With respectto alumni or friends of the school, these individuals are being systematicallyorganized into clubs for the specific purpose of inspiring contacts andarranging campus visits, in contrast to the original Conference concept ofindividual and voluntary alumni activity....
"The trend isreflected in the development of the prospect as a 'shopper' and the emergenceof a type known as the 'peddler,' who may be a parent, a high school coach, ora self-appointed agent. Their activity is illustrated by printed 'fliers' whichthe Committee has seen, prepared to advertise the wares of a boy for theinterest of coaches. Conference coaches have received offers to induce theenrollment of outstanding prospects on a fee basis. There actually was anattempt in Chicago, only recently, to set up a clearing house in the nature ofa central recruiting bureau which would provide information on prospectsincluding their abilities and their interests."
SUBSIDIZATION:"The marked increase in the volume of aids to athletes can be documented.On the basis of reports filed with his office the Commissioner estimates thisincrease (covering unearned aid and on-campus jobs but excluding off-campusemployment) to be almost 550% since 1948.
"The averageamount of aid per athlete, according to this study, has increased from $47 in1948 to $260 in 1955. These amounts are not imposing, although one schoolreports aid to 187 listed as athletes amounting to $759 per man, because thebase takes in all athletes, in all sports, and includes freshmen numeralwinners in all sports as well. The figures...become imposing when theyrepresent the aid to varsity football and basketball players. A special studyhas just been completed, covering nine schools and their 370 football andbasketball lettermen in 1955-56. This shows unearned and campus job assistancefor those squad members totaling $225,637, or an average of $609.83 for eachindividual....
"Between 1948and 1955 the volume of unearned aid to athletes, as reported to the Conference,jumped from $56,694 to $348,688—an increase of more than 600%. (This increaseparalleled, but practically doubled, an estimated 310% increase in scholarshipaids to Conference undergraduate students generally, which are reported to havegone from $916,000 to $2,850,000 in the same period.)
"A distincttrend in this respect is the diversion of athletic receipts to finance thescholarship program. Whereas no school is understood to have employed athleticreceipts for this purpose in 1946, five schools do so at present and those fiveare now contributing an average of $35,000 annually to funds for unearned aidto athletes. An interesting footnote here is that one of these schools beganthis diversion in 1952 with $15,000 and has now doubled that amount annually;another began with $15,000 last year and plans an increase to $45,000 by nextyear.
" 'Make-work'by athletic departments as a means of subsidizing athletes likewise hasdefinitely increased. It is estimated that athletic department payrolls forstudent help now average in excess of $46,300 annually, representing well overfour times the payrolls estimated in 1946....
"It ischaracteristic of many work programs, for both on-campus and off-campus jobs,that they are not on an hourly-rated pay basis, but are for specified sums permonth. Wherever this characteristic appears it is evident that an assuredincome, through work, has been tendered a boy as a part of his initialoffer."
ACADEMIC FAVORSFOR ATHLETES: "Virtually any prospective athlete can find acceptance atsome Conference institution. This is not to say that there is any generallaxity in observing entrance requirements. But it is significant that thespecial devices available for entrance seem not to be missed where an athleteis concerned. It is true that, by and large, those individuals withquestionable entrance qualifications become academic casualties at some pointafter matriculation, indicating no special academic indulgence for athletes.But the very fact of their acceptance as bad academic risks has done adisservice to the Conference, to the institution involved, and to athletics asa whole; not to say to the boy himself.
"Statisticson the number of athletes enrolled in schools of physical education do notsupport a generalized statement that those curricula are being used as anacademic refuge. Nevertheless, it has been observed that athletes who encounterdifficulties in other courses of study do switch to physical education to buildup their grade-point averages for eligibility. Moreover, the same thing is doneto qualify for unearned financial aid."
RELATIONSHIP OFATHLETES AND ATHLETICS WITH STUDENT BODY: "The Committee is concerned toobserve what it considers to be a discernible trend in the direction ofisolating the athlete in the eyes of his fellow students as anon-representative student. This trend is promoted by the special recruitmentand subsidization efforts which have been analyzed above. It is furtheraggravated by the conscious or unconscious regimentation of the athlete in histraining for competitive excellence. It has not advanced to the point ofestablishing separate dormitories for athletes on any extensive basis, butthere is that possibility.
"There isdiscerned a diminishing pride of students in 'their' teams. The residualinterest possessed by student bodies at large is centered on the spectacleaspects of competition. There is, for example, less and less manifestation ofspontaneous interest such as the traditional student rally of past years. Thereis believed to be a waning of 'sportsmanship' as an ideal, reflected inincreasing crowd behavior problems, notably at basketball games....
"There isalso noted a trend departing from the philosophy of providing intercollegiatecompetition opportunities on the broadest possible basis which should be thecornerstone of any athletic program. This departure is typified by abandonmentof 150-pound and junior varsity football programs in the Conference, due,apparently, to administrative disinterest in them, for it cannot be argued thatthere is insufficient student interest. This spring 1,104 students reported forspring football practice in the Conference. Not more than 600 will be invitedto take part in fall practice, leaving the demonstrated interest of at least500 completely unsatisfied.
"It may besaid, in fact, that there is increasing relative neglect of all sports that arenot revenue-making or publicity-producing for the school. There are actuallyfewer team entries and likewise, over-all, considerably fewer individualentries in the so-called minor sports championships conducted by the Conferencetoday than there were 30 years ago, notwithstanding the enormous growths ofstudent bodies in that period."
EVASION ANDVIOLATION OF RULES BY ATHLETIC STAFFS: "Understanding and respect for rulesmust be the basis for rules adherence.... Lack of understanding and respect maybe traced to two factors: an attitude of studied evasion and the fact that thepremises of the rules are nowhere clearly stated.
"The attitudeof studied evasion, which amounts to a philosophy of the calculated risk, seemsto spring from universal mistrust of other staffs. It is true that there is anabsolute minimum of reporting suspicions and allegations to enforcementauthorities. But the belief exists that other staffs are all crowding orviolating the rules. This belief has been given support by a so-called 'truthsession' among football coaches three years ago, when each coach, in around-table, admitted that in some way he was evading or breaking the rules.(The nature of the violations admitted was never made explicit, however. Acheck with certain participants indicates their nature was not necessarilyserious: as, for instance, one coach said he was speaking of practices of whichhe personally disapproved although they were within the rules, and another saidhe was speaking of...'fringe' violations.)
"The beliefin suspicions and allegations about others becomes a rationalization for one'sown evasions or compromises. Such rationalization further serves the feeling ofcompetitive pressure to win which, in the words of a non-Conference footballcoach, is 'the only thing.' "
In concludingtheir report, the members of the Big Ten committee projected their findingsahead 10 or 15 years to see what the present situation, if unchecked, mightlead to. Nothing that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED could have said in summarizing theresults of its own survey could have demonstrated more clearly how real thethreat to college football has become:
"All studentsengaged in intercollegiate athletics will be carefully screened, selected andvigorously recruited...on the basis of terms arrived at in bargaining betweencoach and prospect or his agent.... Complete financial assistance will beprovided, (exceeding) mere educational expense and sufficient to maintain ahigh standard of living.... Discontinuance of non-revenue producingintercollegiate sports and intra-mural activities.... A state of disunityamounting to virtual anarchy...in the administration of rules andregulations.... Athletes segregated in all campus activities from studentbodies at large.... The Big Ten...will emerge as a closed corporationdisplaying the ultimate in athletic prowess at any level.... In fact, it maywell form a functional arrangement in the nature of a farm system, withorganized professional sports.
"At a certainpoint," the committee concluded, "either educational administratorswill recognize there is no identity between their sports and educationalprograms and will order the dissolution of the former before the attachmentcorrupts the latter; or the distinction between intercollegiate sports andprofessional sports will become so invisible that public support will shift tothe latter...and the resulting financial chaos will force abandonment of theintercollegiate program."
What is true ofthe Big Ten, as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's survey showed in August, is in almostevery respect true throughout the country. In other words, unless presentpractices are drastically corrected, college football as America has known it,as it has molded and stimulated Americans young and old, boy and man, girl andwoman, for four generations, will have vanished from the scene within thelifetime of anyone reading these pages.
NINE POINTS FOR SURVIVAL
In concluding their survey on the college footballcrisis, the editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Herman Hickman carefully weighedall the facts and opinions which came in as a result of their interviews andquestionnaires. Beyond that, we have tried, as we promised at the beginning ofthis series, to consider football's problems in the context of the game. Webelieve that these are changes which are necessary and can be practicallyaccomplished; changes that will serve the cause of college football as it isplayed in America today and help to preserve it in the name of thesportsmanship which should always be associated with it.
1 Each prospective football player in order to obtainan athletic scholarship must be qualified for admission the same as any otherstudent.
Some suggestions have been made that a national testshould be given, such as the college board examinations, in order tostandardize admissions. We feel that this is completely impracticable becauseof the varying degree of secondary school standards in different sections ofthe country and also the wide range of requirements for admissions at differentinstitutions. Admission standards must be left to the individual institution,and in any case be no lower than the conference level.
2 The applicant must show economic need.
It should be the duty of each institution to checkthoroughly the financial status of the athlete's family and their ability topay his college expenses. In no case should he be given more aid thanneeded.
3 Each player should receive through regularinstitutional channels, and only through these channels, sufficient financialaid to take care of his normal college expenses such as board, room, tuitionand fees, books, laundry and dry cleaning.
The individual college should make up a budget ofnecessary expenses of a regular student, and this criterion should be theamount of the athletic scholarship awarded. The amount in dollars and centswill vary from institution to institution and from conference to conference,but in any case it must not be above the actual expenses as certified by thecollege. If this procedure is followed it will do away with much of thebickering such as is going on in the Pacific Coast Conference about thedifference in the cost of living in Los Angeles and Corvallis, Oregon.
4 All other financial aid, except that outlined in No.3, is prohibited.
The prohibition includes promise of financial aidbeyond the minimum time required for a student to complete his allowableathletic competition, and outside aid and outside jobs, except jobs during thesummer and during the school vacations, for which the pay is not greater thanthat received by other people doing the same kind of work. Any outside rewardsor inducements to athletes or prospective athletes, such as gifts of money,clothes, lavish entertainment, loans or acting as sureties for loans, shall beconsidered as excessive financial aid and be prohibited.
5 The acceptance of any aid, except that outlined inNo. 3, shall result in immediate expulsion of the student involved.
Assuming a conference and all of its members, or, sofar as that goes, all the conferences and colleges, have adopted thisscholarship plan, then there is no reason why this rule should be broken. Whenan institution guarantees the needed expenses of an individual, there arecertain responsibilities that he must assume. This should be explained to himin full by a regular faculty representative the day he registers. He should beasked to sign a pledge to this effect in order to receive his scholarship.
6 A fixed percentage of athletic scholarships—wesuggest 75%—should be reserved only for boys in the conference territory of thecollege or university and its environs.
This would avoid the widespread recruiting abuseswhich occur in the course of competition for players from other sections.Another point that might be well taken would be to put a limit on the number ofathletic scholarships each institution could provide so as to keep thecompetition on the same plane within a conference.
7 To receive an athletic scholarship and remaineligible for it, the recipient must take a regular course of study, of his ownchoice, leading to a degree. He must take a normal load of academic hours andmaintain a satisfactory average. Before the beginning of his third year he musthave attained the proper number of credit hours and quality points to become afullfledged member of the junior class or his scholarship will bewithdrawn.
If this rule was adopted and maintained by allinstitutions, most of the critics of college football would be hushed. Phonyjobs and under-the-table pay are relatively unimportant compared to this phase.The maintenance of these standards does away with the stigma of"semipro" and "hired" athletes. The word "amateur"becomes real. In other words, strict observance of this rule places the properconnotation on the noun "proselyte."
8 The responsibility for proper practices ofrecruitment and subsidization of players should be placed squarely on theshoulders of the head football coach.
The president of the institution and his facultycommittee on athletics should demand that the coach be personally and directlyresponsible to the president and his committee for his actions. They shouldinsure and assure him against undue pressure to win games at any cost. Theyshould free him of financial worries about gate receipts, and they should firehim if he or any of his assistants directly or indirectly give, have given,promise or condone any financial aid to players or prospective players beyondthe regulations of the institution.
9 The "athletic dormitory" and the year-roundtraining table should be abolished.
We realize that the training table during the season,especially for the night meal after practice and the pre-game meals onSaturdays, is a must. But for better player-student relations the athleticdormitory should be done away with or divided with nonathletic students, andthe training table abolished out of season. And, more important, all incomingfreshman athletes should be mixed at the beginning with other members of thestudent body. This might be impracticable at some institutions and economicallyunsound at others, but it would improve the stature of college footballimmeasurably.