Nothing can ever be written about the University of Virginia without beginning with a quote of Thomas Jefferson's, and, ideally, closing with one as well.
In the KA house at noon there was an air of intense gaiety. Young people milled about on the portico, in the hallway and in the chapter room, and everybody said, 'Hey! How you?' very loudly to one another. Although it was too early to drink or dance, everybody casually did both, to the noise of horns and saxophones, and the girls' faces became pink and lovely and excited, so certain was each girl that this day was meant for her alone. At the bar, in an atmosphere of calculated darkness, boys and girls stood drinking hot rum from Mason jars.... The football game itself was hardly mentioned: it was only a hurdle to be overcome before the real happiness began.
Lie Down In Darkness
The University, founded by Mister Jefferson, opened The Doors for 68 students 155 years ago last March. Both institutions—the University and Mister Jefferson—are doing quite well. The University endowment amounts to $160 million, among the highest in the world for a public institution. The football team actually had a winning record last fall, and the basketball team won the NIT. Teddy Kennedy went to The Law School. The students, the Wahoos, who live on The Grounds, the most prominent of them on The Lawn by The Rotunda, still sing The Good Old Song, still abide by The Honor System, and in the spring still celebrate Easters, the ultimate in collegiate bacchanalia. Playboy once ranked the Top 10 party schools in the U.S. It started with Miami and went down from there, without—incredibly—rating The University. Then, at the end of the article, it declared that Virginia was in a class by itself as a party school. Another league. Nonpareil.
Mister Jefferson is also doing terrifically. Ask anybody around Hookville. Hookville is Charlottesville, the name apparently deriving from the shape of the apostrophe when it is written C'ville. In Hookville it is always Mister Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson is a name in history books. Mister Jefferson is around. There is always the sense that he'll be back in a minute, that he just went down to the apothecary, or is over at the Sunoco station, kicking whitewalls. At Monticello the places are set and there are fruits and nuts on the table. Oh sure, Mister Jefferson hasn't been especially crazy about making the columns with Sally Hemings the last few years. Now his and Sally's love story has been optioned by Hollywood. But what are you going to do? The epochs they are achangin'. Under pressure of a lawsuit, The University accepted women as students in 1970, 50 years after they got the vote. A University course on Virginia history is taught by an apostate from Youngstown, Ohio, whose theme is: "Ohio turned out to be what Mister Jefferson wanted Virginia to be." And strangest of all, some visionaries think the football team will actually go to a bowl this year.
Mister Jefferson was a redhead, standing 6'2½", gigantic in those days, sort of the relative equivalent of Dave Cowens. And as Alexander Hamilton could tell you, Mister Jefferson could go to his left. And he had a complete game—writing, designing, creating and inventing everything that Ben Franklin never got around to.
Of course, the jury is still out on Mister Jefferson's quickness, inasmuch as he was a WASP. It used to be that there were certain code words that told everybody we were talking about blacks. Now we have that for whites. As soon as you read so-and-so lacks quickness, you know what we are letting on. White guy. If the newspapers headlined Mister Jefferson's Declaration of Independence today, it would read: 56 INK LIBERTY PACT; SIGNERS LACK QUICKNESS.
Well, unfortunately, The University's basketball team has lacked quickness. When the Constitutional scholars in Hookville get to discussing the Three-Fifths Compromise, they mean that only two of the Wahoo starters on the NIT basketball team were black. But never mind. The big man now is Ralph Sampson, a second-year student, who has quickness, grace and touch and, being 7'4" tall, is quite capable of taking the Wahoos to a national championship. Sampson is from nearby Harrisonburg, perhaps the first really sought-after Virginia athlete ever to choose the state university—and, listen, he chose it twice. This summer he refused to let an ungracious Red Auerbach spirit him away to play for the Celtics. So not only is there potential for a basketball championship and a football bowl, but for a trend as well. Ah, but can The University deal with it? As a fanatical alumnus booster named Rennie O'Ferrell says, "After all these years of losing, of struggling to get on top, I'm afraid it's going to be a terrible letdown when we do win." Greg Canty, a star half-miler on the track team, explains the mass disorientation last autumn: "Always before, people went to the football games because it was an excuse to get drunk. When we started winning, people found themselves staying sober. It was all very strange."
Of all American colleges, surely only at The University is victory considered disturbing. Nevertheless, the problem is imminent, and Mister Jefferson is probably puzzled. As he said the other day while he was figuring out a cure for the common cold and how to put Amtrak into the black, "Who's gonna win, who's gonna win, who's gonna win the people say-ay-ay? We're gonna win, we're gonna win, V-I-R-G-I-N-I-A-A-A-A!"
All right, no more blasphemy.
To appreciate how The University got to such a pretty pass in athletics, it is necessary to understand that Mister Jefferson's "Academical Village," as he styled it, has been perhaps the most unusual public institution in America, flourishing with contradictions to the point of schizophrenia. To begin with, The University cannot be divorced from the state, which is, of course, not a state at all but The Commonwealth, Mother of Presidents, home of The Father of Our Country, the land, forever, of tradition. Virginia was not only most prominent in birthing the nation, but also the most responsible for cleaving it. Staige Blackford, a Rhodes scholar graduate of The University, now editor of The Virginia Quarterly Review, says, "Even into the '50s, the Deep South looked to Virginia as sure as it had after Sumter. If Harry Byrd and his organization had not urged the South to follow massive resistance, I'm sure that integration would have moved ahead by five years or more. But remember this too: through all those awful years of turmoil, there was almost no violence in Virginia."
Honor still matters in Virginia. Dick Bestwick, the Virginia football coach, had been an assistant at Georgia Tech, and last winter he had a chance to return there as head man. His contract at The University was up. "I was never really worried Dick would go," says Gene Corrigan, the athletic director. "Dick is an honorable man, and I don't believe, whatever Tech might have offered, that Dick could have stood up before the team he had brought here and told those boys he was leaving them."
The men who predominated at The University until well into this century were raised on the glories of honor, the garlands of chivalry and the noble lost cause that ended with The War Between the States (never The Civil War). It is still customary in the Commonwealth that the history of Virginia be taught in the fourth, seventh and 11th grades. Virginia rewrote much of the history of the war. General Robert E. Lee, Virginian, became an impossible paradox: a Christlike warrior. And, of course, if General Stonewall Jackson, Virginian, hadn't been killed at Chancellorsville, Lee would have had Jackson to depend upon at Gettysburg instead of South Carolina's James Longstreet, and the Army of Northern Virginia would have been marching triumphantly through downtown Albany, N.Y. the following Tuesday.
So Virginians grow up understanding that defeat is often explicable and never so important as the cause—which probably is a fine way to live unless you're playing Ohio State. Surely it is no coincidence that the other Confederate state that is so tradition-bound is South Carolina—North Carolina refers to itself as "a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit"—and South Carolina's state university has, after Virginia's, the most woeful athletic heritage in Dixie. So cherished is defeat in the Virginia tradition that its fondest sports memory is of a loss. It was 1941, the year The University had its only Everybody's All-America, Bullet Bill Dudley, and nearly had its only perfect season, too. The Wahoos were ahead of Yale 19-0 at the half but lost 21-19. And here's the punch line the alumni really savor: not only was it Virginia's lone defeat, but it was also Yale's only victory. Beautiful. If Stonewall Jackson hadn't been shot at Chancellorsville, then when Lee told Long-street to attack and....
But The University's ambivalence has hardly been restricted to the winning and losing of games. "The paradoxes begin with Mister Jefferson himself," Staige Blackford says. "Here was this great liberal thinker, and his final, fondest dream ended up as a citadel of conservatism and conformity." Mister Jefferson didn't even want degrees awarded, dismissing them (rather in the manner of The Wizard of Oz) as "artificial embellishments," and while the faculty subsequently overruled him, generations of student bodies took him at face value. Any warm white male body could get into The University, and there was a disposition then to stay around. These perennials were known as "quituates" and numbered many distinguished Virginians who idled about Hookville for years before drifting on, sans degree.
Mister Jefferson had also hoped his Academical Village would "be a temptation to the youth of other states to come, and drink the cup of knowledge and fraternize with us," but, alas, it was seldom that particular vessel that the displaced Yankee preppies imbibed from at U. Va.—Yooveeay, as it has always been known. Until the '50s, as many as half of the first-year students came from out-of-state, and a fourth were preppies, who ruled the fraternities, which ruled The Grounds. About two-thirds of the jocks were also preppies. "Lettermen were always the leaders at The University," says William L. Zimmer III, Rector of The University, 1976-80, and head of The Board of Visitors, which anywhere else would be the chairman of the Board of Trustees. Mister Jefferson was the first Rector.
None of this is meant to suggest that Yooveeay was an academic backwater; a diploma had to be earned, and the graduate schools—especially law—developed national reputations. But the student body remained remarkably homogeneous for a so-called state school. E. Massie Valentine '56, a member of The Board, says, "It was the only private state institution in the country. We didn't like to admit that, but it was so." So tightly knit was Yooveeay's population that secret societies there made the famous secret clubs at Yale, such as Skull and Bones, seem like Master Charge by comparison. There is still a society at The University known as The Sevens, and while its name and good deeds pop up periodically, no one knows the first thing about it, and members' identities are revealed, mysteriously, only in their obituaries.
The antebellum Yooveeay was smaller only than Harvard and Yale, but it is a tiny state school now (10,838 undergraduates), and until recently only 5,000 men inhabited the insular little world in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. The University was just one more pearl in that string of exclusive Virginia The's: The Church (St. Paul's Episcopal in Richmond), The Hot (Springs), The War (not World War II), The General (not Longstreet), The Beach (Virginia Beach), The Country Club (of Virginia), The High School (Episcopal High in Alexandria, which isn't a high school at all but a boys' boarding school), and even The Hunt (Deep Run).
Since 1842 students have been bound by The Honor System, which, though hardly unique to Virginia, has always been more pervasive there than in other academic groves. It was established after a professor was shot on The Lawn and nobody confessed to the deed. The decree went out that a Virginia gentleman did not lie, cheat or steal. If by chance he did, it was "an offense against the whole community," and he was confronted and obliged to leave.
When The University was a tightly knit, stylized community, the system worked with little controversy. Terry Holland, the Wahoo basketball coach, went to Davidson, a small Southern private school, essentially what Yooveeay used to be. "At Davidson, you knew The Honor System could work smoothly," Holland says, "because everybody knew everybody."
Now the system is under fire. Never have the Wahoos been so critical of The Honor System. Especially at issue is the principle of "single sanction," which means simply that those found guilty are banished forever.
Says Zimmer, "I admit single sanction is extreme, and I personally am willing to consider modifications, but the trouble is that everywhere you have a gradation of The Honor System, it kills it. In the old days, The Honor System was a spirit, perhaps ethereal at best, but that's what made it live. As we have added more codification, the spirit has weakened."
A couple of football players have been sent packing for honor violations in the past two seasons, and some members of the athletic department think the system is too drastic. Says one coach, "You bring a kid in from a prep school, from an upper middle-class culture, fine and dandy, but you get some boy in here who is strange to this society, under pressure, he makes one mistake, and boom, he's marked for life." A law-school graduate who went to a prep school and was familiar with the system recalls an out-of-state classmate being expelled, shortly after he arrived at The University, for taking free Cokes from a defective soft-drink machine. "Sure he took the Cokes," says the student, "but that kid was gone before he knew what hit him."
The system's weakness is not that some students will lie and cheat and never be caught—there is no pretense that it is foolproof—but that honor is an absolute. The system purports to extend into every phase of university life, yet it cannot be absolute, nor was it ever meant to be. This places the greatest burden on those most honorable. Everyone is supposed to be, morally, a virgin, while in fact everybody knows he is a little bit pregnant. Asking college kids to mess around with such absolutes is a tricky business; the athletic parallel is gamblers telling players they can shave points and still play to win.
But at Virginia it has always been understood that only what is "reprehensible" is an offense. Students at Yooveeay sit around and debate what constitutes reprehensibility the way their medieval peers used to agonize over how many angels could stand on the head of a pin.
Down from The Rotunda, along The Lawn—which the English historian John Wheeler-Bennett called "the most beautiful man-made thing in the United States"—are cramped single rooms which are awarded to outstanding fourth-year students. These prized cubbyholes are without bathrooms and kitchens (just as they were when Edgar Allan Poe resided in one), so hot pots are permitted. But toaster-ovens are expressly prohibited. A resident of The Lawn admits, however, that the students have made "a judgment call" and have decided that breaking the toaster-oven law is not reprehensible. Now many rooms are so equipped.
Members of The Board can recall that in the golden days, a student caught cheating in a penny-ante card game off campus would have departed forever the next dawn. But it was also always understood that offenses relating to liquor lay outside the code: Students who scrupulously followed The Honor System all their days never felt any compunction about lying about their age or falsifying I.D. cards.
Women, too, were, we may say, winked at where The Honor System was concerned. It was the old Southern code, carried into the 20th century, that a woman who permitted herself to be dishonored by a gentleman was not an honorable woman; ergo, no man could be dishonorable to her.
The irony of Yooveeay's long-standing all-male status was that women defined the place by not being present. Most of the fabled drinking and partying was en route, in search. It was called, whatever the direction, "goin' down the road," and every night a significant portion of The University student body would pile into cars and head off after coeds, to Sweet Briar, Mary Washington, Hollins, Randolph-Macon. The more sophisticated and well-heeled would incline toward Lynchburg and a well-known sporting house there. These journeys weren't measured by conventional mileage but by the number of beers that could be consumed along the way; Hollins, for example, was a long haul, a 12-beer trip. With the admittance of women at Yooveeay enrollment has almost doubled, but only half as many students are killed annually in auto accidents.
There is hardly a Virginia alumnus who cannot recall some streak period, when he went down the road 34 nights in a row—or 47 or 52. It was the ultimate in male bonding, men together, being boys, chasing girls—who were kept in their place, which was a six-pack or two away. Dick Fogg, who played on the Wahoo football team that tied the national record, 28 losses in a row, 1958-60, says, "Maybe a lot of guys wouldn't admit this then, but for most of us, goin' down the road was better than when we got there."
"Women have made a change here in the last decade because they've made the men change," says John Casteen '65, the Dean of Admissions. "The type of boy that used to be so much in evidence here, the one that went down the road every night, was a sort of self-destructive Lord Byron type. And that kind of man just doesn't appeal to smart women now, if indeed he ever really did. All of a sudden that type discovered that he just wasn't fashionable to the opposite sex, and that was the end of him."
It has not been quite so easy to put losing out of fashion at Yooveeay. As Bill Millsaps, a Tennessean who is sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, says, "It's always fascinated me to go to a Virginia football game because no matter how badly the team might be going, optimism was remarkably high. But at the same time, expectations were very low. It was the most rational game atmosphere. Virginia athletics have always reminded me of British foreign policy, with a magnificent history of honorable failures."
The Commonwealth's historical ambivalence about where it belonged made it difficult for Yooveeay to find a place for itself athletically, too. Its old traditional rival, North Carolina, got tired of smashing the Wahoos and found more practical, emotional competitions with Duke and North Carolina State. Virginia quit the Southern Conference in 1936 largely because subsidized athletics had started in earnest and many other conference schools were giving players phony jobs; Yooveeay couldn't do that and remain true to The Honor System. After World War II, as the cotton-South schools emphasized football more and more, buying players, clearly putting victory above honor, The University felt soiled by geographical association.
Then football scandals rocked two sister Virginia schools, William & Mary and Washington & Lee. Shocked, some University alumni wanted to point North, try to join up with the schools that were beginning to formalize the Ivy League. At least initial steps were taken to examine the possibility of starting a Southern Ivy, but in the end, in 1953, Virginia became the last of eight colleges to make up the new Atlantic Coast Conference. The seven other schools were delighted to have The University on board, for Mister Jefferson's school would enhance their image, while Yooveeay's athletic death wish would inflate their records.
Sure enough, Yooveeay refused to compromise, and it got clobbered more than ever. But if it was noble for The University not to overemphasize athletics, it is apparent now that the school was right for many of the wrong reasons. Nonetheless, in the years in which Virginia institutionalized defeat, it grew academically and in breadth. Maybe this wouldn't have happened if victory on the playing fields had consumed it. But now only the oldest of dodderers rail at poor General Longstreet anymore, Robert E. Lee is a citizen of the United States of America once again, and women sleep like equals in rooms along The Lawn. It's time to play to win at last. So many colleges in America have gotten into trouble in sports because they were ashamed to lose. The University doesn't have to be ashamed to win anymore.
Virginia's anti-athletic posture was made virtually official in 1952 when a faculty committee issued what was known as The Gooch Report, an analysis that criticized subsidized athletics and obsessional partying, more or less lumping together fun and games as evils to combat. The president at the time, Colgate Darden, a former governor widely recognized as The University's Jefferson for this century, was striving to advance the school academically; he had no time to fool with sports and there was nobody else to stand up as a patron for Yooveeay athletics.
In 1953 came a notably disastrous football season (1-8), and by the end of the decade the Wahoos were on their way to the record 28 straight defeats. Things became so disorganized that one time the team was penalized for delay of game for showing up late to its own stadium. Another time the team bus went to the wrong college for a game. Coach followed quickly upon coach. One, to little apparent avail, would quote Tennyson to his charges before games. Others were nearly shattered by the experience. Terry Holland remembers his feeling of watching with helpless pathos Sonny Randle, the coach in 1974 and 1975, being "destroyed as a person."
When Bestwick was deliberating whether to follow Randle as coach, Joe Paterno, his old friend, said flat out, "There's no way you can succeed there. It's impossible." The Wahoos always had bright players—19 of 22 starters made the Dean's List on one of the winless teams—and a few good ones (Henry Jordan, Jim Bakhtiar, Gary Cuozzo), but they couldn't compete when it came to depth. The euphemistically named "Student Aid Foundation," which hands out privately raised scholarship money to athletes (typical of Virginia that it couldn't face the truth, that it really is the Athletes' Aid Foundation, like it or not) fell $300,000 in debt, and of the few scholarships it could dish out, fewer still went to quality players, who were often denied entrance because of a stiff foreign-language requirement.
The football team had 15 straight non-winning seasons, one winner, then 10 more non-winners before Bestwick's team went 6-5 this past autumn—an aggregate record so woeful (79-185-3, .299) that, by comparison, the Wahoos have absolutely convinced themselves that they have enjoyed a basketball juggernaut over the years. They grow indignant with those who lump basketball and football as a joint disaster. In fact, though, the basketball squad had 16 straight losing seasons through 1970, has a losing record against all ACC opponents and has finished as high as second in conference regular-season play once in 26 years.
Basketball had no heritage in Hookville. It was too sweaty to be a gentleman's game, and it didn't lend itself to tailgate parties. For a long time, the major sport after football was boxing, of all things. A fellow named John LaRue, who ran a pool hall in town, was the prime force behind the sport, and soon the genteel Wahoos were a pugilistic power, along with the service academies and the tough coal-belt, snow-belt schools of Penn State, Syracuse and Wisconsin. But Virginia kept its aplomb, even for slugfests; at Memorial Gymnasium it was the custom that not a sound be uttered during the action, so fights were conducted in an atmosphere similar to that prevailing at tennis or golf matches.
When basketball became popular in the Southeast after World War II, it came first to prominence at North Carolina State, a cow college, and then at Chapel Hill with imported Yankees. Yooveeay viewed this development as tackier even than Southern-bought football players and treated the sport with disdain. Until 1966 it kept on playing in the cramped, chicken-wired Memorial Gym, where visiting teams dressed in a corridor, more or less, and when University Hall was built, seating was held to 9,000 because nobody could conceive of more than that many Virginians actually attending a basketball game.
Moreover, The University was slow to enroll black students; Ralph Sampson is really the first blue-chip black athlete to matriculate there. This situation wasn't helped either when, early in the '70s, then basketball Coach Bill Gibson was interviewed by a Carolina broadcaster. After the formal TV interview the announcer said, "How come you don't have any niggers on your team, Bill?" Gibson shot back, "Same reason there aren't any at your TV station." The cameras were still rolling and somehow the whole exchange ended up on the air.
By now boxing had been dropped as an intercollegiate sport, and except for lacrosse (and, yes, polo), there was little to cheer about. But the lacrosse coach, Gene Corrigan (who also had to assist in two other sports and be the full-time Sports Information Director), left to take a job with the ACC. Things were so depressing, Corrigan recalls, that students would boo the cheerleaders. Worse, under an aggressive president, VPI started competing seriously with the Wahoos, and some influential alumni, like Fred Pollard, a former lieutenant governor, began to see ominous implications that went far beyond athletics. "Sports are so visible," Pollard says, "that I became concerned that the legislature would start to perceive The University as a whole as a loser and shift appropriations to Tech." In a real sense, it seems, colleges simply can't afford to lose anymore.
In Hookville, all hope faded, and it was the rare top Virginia athlete who would even consider The University. Everybody threw up his hands and said it was all because of the language requirement. That was a made-to-order Longstreet that, Corrigan says, everybody could "cling to." No one in Virginia liked to recall that another reason Lee had to depend on Longstreet was that Stonewall Jackson's own men (some North Carolinians) had shot him by mistake. So it was, by now, that other colleges were not beating Yooveeay; it was gunning itself down.
Corrigan returned as athletic director in 1971, but things grew so bad that for a while he seriously wondered whether it might be best to abandon intercollegiate athletics. That might well have come to pass had not basketball become popular in 1971 with the arrival of a high-scoring guard from State College, Pa. named Barry Parkhill. Other good players followed, and in Holland's second season, 1976, the Wahoos actually won the ACC tournament. Encouraged by that and by Bestwick's arrival in football later in '76, Corrigan went to The University president, Frank Hereford, with a proposal. Essentially, Corrigan said, if we're going to keep on fielding teams, mightn't we also try to win?
Hereford (who plays tennis with Corrigan) agreed that this radical concept had some merit to it. "Our failure to achieve a more successful athletic program is a failure on the part of the entire University," he wrote to his top staff. And to Corrigan: "I remain confident—and determined—that we need not choose between excellence in academic programs and excellence in athletics. We can and must aspire to both."
Among other decisions, it was agreed to increase athletic expenditures from $2.7 million to $4.4 million by 1983-84. If a recruited athlete's scholastic record indicated he could graduate in four years, he could be accepted; accommodations were made for the language requirement; academic advisers would be hired to tutor athletes.
Buoyed by these developments and grateful for the small favors provided by the basketball team, the Virginia Student Aid Foundation now raises $1.2 million a year. The Wahoo students are beside themselves. They actually have a pep band, and not only do they not boo at cheerleaders, but they have become so vociferous, and so vulgar as well, that Corrigan had to strike a devil's deal with them. Now the students shout out code numbers that refer to dirty words. There is even the expectation of victory in the air. Last school year was the first since 1948-49 in which both football and basketball teams had winning records.
The two men directly responsible are Holland and Best-wick, and few men so dissimilar ever co-existed. As Corrigan's field generals, Holland is the dour, ascetic Stonewall Jackson figure, while Bestwick is the dashing cavalryman, Jeb Stuart, who sallied forth on his raids wearing a silk saber sash and ostrich plumes. Jackson was a philosophy professor, revealed as a tactical genius only when the battle clarion sounded. Holland, a grave, gray-flecked, 6'1" 37-year-old, is the same sort of precise personality, invariably referred to (and not unkindly) as "distant." At Davidson, where, playing basketball for the flamboyant Lefty Driesell, he led the nation in field-goal percentage, Holland never intended to apply his analytical abilities to coaching. It has been 15 years since he became Driesell's graduate assistant for one season, but he says, "I still look at coaching every year on a one-year basis."
By contrast, Bestwick, a stocky strawberry blond with flashing teeth, lights up every room he enters. He is a leader first, then an instructor, and like Jeb Stuart, who knew no life but that Of the cavalry brigade, Bestwick was only 10 when he decided that he was going to be a coach. He is a factory worker's son, but he has coached at several academically demanding schools, and he is comfortable at The University. Bestwick is a man who never got a chance at a head job till he was in his 40s. He left after two days because he could see that he and that college would not be compatible. He had the inside track to be head coach at Georgia Tech, where he was an assistant for nine years, until some powerful alumni brought in Pepper Rodgers, a name. And now, when he finally does get a chance, it's at the worst football college in America. "The trouble with this country is that there is a tendency now to accept any standard of behavior so long as it gets results—in sports or anything," he says. "I don't want to work anywhere where that thinking applies. This is a fine school, honestly run, with lots of excellent young people and some good players. That's all I wanted."
Of course, The University still remains schizophrenic, torn by the past traditions and the modern imperatives, as is the state itself. Very soon now, Virginia Beach, which had barely 8,000 residents in 1960, will be the largest city in the Commonwealth. Mike Todd's widow is the junior Senator's wife. Schoolchildren know their bumper stickers—VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS—better than their history. Charlottesville, like much of The Commonwealth, leans toward Washington and finds its identity there. Who ever would have imagined that the Confederacy would finally go away, not with a whimper or a bang, but merely as a commuter?
But some things are immutable. Last fall, in order to dramatize a protest, some students stole a bust of the founder. When they were collared, one instigator was quick to explain, "We weren't assaulting Mister Jefferson. We love him." And the beauty of his place remains surpassing. In 1976, the American Institute of Architects polled experts and found Mister Jefferson's Grounds worthy of more acclaim than any other design in the nation's history. The Rotunda has survived fire; The Lawn, toaster-ovens; Mister Jefferson, his love life. The Sevens still exists, somewhere out there. The fraternities still thrive along Rugby Road, and so does Easters.
A coat and tie remained de rigueur for students' everyday wear well into the '60s, and even now a visitor will be surprised by a style and neatness long gone from other campuses. Margaret Groos, from Tennessee, The University's second female scholarship athlete and the reigning AAU women's cross-country champion, says, "Conformity is still strong at The University. Many kids wear a 'uniform' all the time—boys in khakis with a pullover sweater over a button-down or an alligator shirt. The girls wear plaid skirts and ponytails and ribbons. Hot pink and lime green are the colors now." Next time, Mister Jefferson will be in the columns with Sandra Dee.
But it isn't only a style that lingers. Mike Owens, last year's basketball co-captain, a handsome black who plans to study medicine, says, "No matter what anybody claims, there are a lot of Southern traditions still clinging to the University of Virginia. Whenever there's any doubt, somebody is still going to throw a big party. So there is still that type, but it was good for me because I learned to enjoy being able to deal with people who inherently don't like me. That's part of the education I got here, too."
The fact is that the time may be ripe for athletics at Yooveeay, and at places like it where sports are kept in some perspective—midway, say, between the quality of the cafeteria food and provisions for places where students and faculty can park their automobiles. The corruption at other places can only benefit a school like The University. It is true that Yooveeay has never gone to a bowl and never won an NCAA playoff game, but for recruits the more significant statistics are that 67% of all Yooveeay students graduate in four years, almost 75% in five, which is above the national average—and the figures are virtually identical for Wahoo athletes. Yes, losing isn't everything. And good Lord, after all those years of world-class practice, can you imagine The Victory Party they could throw at The University?
Virginia had been defeated but, who cared?...A few sang songs; others kept on drinking, and those who fell were not left to die there, but were carried away between two friends, in the spirit of brotherhood. At the fraternity houses the colored men had built great fires and here the boys stood noisily discussing the game, while...a girl with an unattractive pale face and large breasts was being led sobbing, complaining of insults and Virginia gentlemen, so-called.... All of a sudden the door opened. A gust of cold wind entered, and Peyton and Dick Cartwright, flanked by two moonfaced boys who began to brandish whisky bottles.
"We come from old Virgin-i-a," they sang, "where all is bright and gay."
The crowd turned, a cheer went up, and the two boys, their arms around Peyton and Dick, led a brassy encore: "Are you ready? Get set!"
Hoo, rah, ray!
Hoo, rah, ray!
Lie Down In Darkness
In an ironic way, it is the athletes here today who most resemble the ideal of the old-line Wahoos. Those men came here to learn how to be responsible, to be role models, so they could leave as gentry, as leaders of The Commonwealth. The athletes may come only as that, as athletes, but by the time they leave, they have learned to respond in many ways to this beautiful place. And that's what the liberal arts are all about.
—PROFESSOR ALAN WILLIAMS
Faculty Chairman of Athletics