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Pay for Play

Pay for Play: A History of Big-Time College Athletic Reform

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Pay for Play
    Book Description:

    In an era when college football coaches frequently command higher salaries than university presidents, many call for reform to restore the balance between amateur athletics and the educational mission of schools. This book traces attempts at college athletics reform from 1855 through the early twenty-first century while analyzing the different roles played by students, faculty, conferences, university presidents, the NCAA, legislatures, and the Supreme Court. _x000B__x000B_Pay for Play: A History of Big-Time College Athletic Reform also tackles critically important questions about eligibility, compensation, recruiting, sponsorship, and rules enforcement. Discussing reasons for reform--to combat corruption, to level the playing field, and to make sports more accessible to minorities and women--Ronald A. Smith candidly explains why attempts at change have often failed. Of interest to historians, athletic reformers, college administrators, NCAA officials, and sports journalists, this thoughtful book considers the difficulty in balancing the principles of amateurism with the need to draw income from sporting events.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09028-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    A resort steamer,Lady of the Lake,lay on the calm waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, on a fine day in August 1852, while the excited passengers listened to martial music of the Concord Mechanics Brass Band. They all awaited the beginning of competition between the crews of Harvard and Yale as they took in the view of the Red Hills behind the village of Centre Harbor at the northern end of the lake.¹ As a purely commercial venture of the newly opened Boston, Concord, and Montreal Railroad, the first intercollegiate athletic contest in America² was secondary to the...

  5. 1 Student-Controlled Athletics and Early Reform
    (pp. 8-17)

    Walter Camp, often called the “Father of American Football,” may have stated best the role students played in creating American intercollegiate athletics. “Neither the faculties nor other critics assisted in building the structure of college athletics,” Camp noted, three years after completing his six-year football career at Yale, “it is a structure which students unaided have builded.”¹ Camp did not claim, however, that students were unaided in the efforts to reform the student games. Students, nevertheless, started the process of reform following the second intercollegiate contest. Several years after Yale’s defeat in the first intercollegiate crew meet, Yale men challenged...

  6. 2 Faculty, Faculty Athletic Committees, and Reform Efforts
    (pp. 17-25)

    The Harvard Athletic Committee in 1889, with a strong faculty hand, stated: “We are entirely in accord with the effort made by the students of [Harvard] to reform college sports.” The Committee anticipated “that they shall hereafter be played under rules which will limit participation in them to bona fide members of the University.”¹ This response to the Intercollegiate Football Association crisis following the Harvard-Princeton game was mostly wishful thinking, for there was little evidence that students were interested in their own athletes being bona fide students, only those of other institutions. Faculty members, on the other hand, were little...

  7. 3 Early Interinstitutional Reform Efforts
    (pp. 25-33)

    Reform efforts by students, who created intercollegiate athletics, and those of athletic committees were not substantial in the latter years of the nineteenth century. The students who controlled athletics had a desire for equitable rules to create a level, competitive playing field, but they were little concerned with the influence athletics had on the quality of education for the student or the institution. Faculty athletic committees were much more concerned about athletics and education than were the students, but from an early period these committees were principally interested in only their own institutions and not how their decisions impacted the...

  8. 4 Presidents: Promoters or Reformers?
    (pp. 34-41)

    The satirist and playwright George Ade wrote a popular comic play in 1904,The College Widow, catching the spirit of college presidents as promoters of intercollegiate athletics. “Do you know, Mr. Bolton,” President Witherspoon of Atwater College said to the star Atwater football player, “this craze for pugilistic sports is demoralizing our institutions.” Replied Billy Bolton, “Oh I hardly think so. Do you know I never heard of Atwater until it scored against Cornell two years ago?” The president rejoined, “Oh, my dear young friend, you, too, are possessed of this madness. Well, come along, Mr. Larrabee [the football coach],...

  9. 5 Football, Progressive Reform, and the Creation of the NCAA
    (pp. 42-51)

    “In view of the tragedy on Ohio Field today,” New York University Chancellor Henry M. MacCracken telegraphed Charles W. Eliot, requesting that the Harvard president call “a meeting of university and college presidents to undertake the reform or abolition of football.”¹ Thus began a series of events addressing not only the death of a Union College football player in a pileup in a game against New York University, but also the larger question of brutality and unsavory practices in football that had been going on for several decades. The telegram at the conclusion of the 1905 college football season, to...

  10. 6 The NCAA: A Faculty Debating Society for Amateurism
    (pp. 51-59)

    For its first half century, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was principally a debating society for faculty representatives interested in amateur athletics. If the smaller schools that had founded the NCAA in December 1905 could have had their way, it would have been more than a debating society, but if it had been given power to legislate and enforce the legislation, few big-time institutions would have joined the organization. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, the triad dominating college athletics throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, refused to join the NCAA in its earliest years, and that was true...

  11. 7 The 1920s and the Carnegie Report on College Athletics
    (pp. 59-70)

    Following America’s entry into World War I, athletics in colleges had been reduced because of the war effort, but after the armistice there was a burst of sporting activity in the nation generally and most notably in intercollegiate athletics. In the colleges this included conducting the first national championships, increasing the hiring of professional coaches, intensifying the recruitment of athletes, and building massive arenas and stadiums. Progressive reform in America, at its height in the decade and a half prior to World War I, mostly collapsed with America’s involvement in the war effort. Reform in intercollegiate sport also took a...

  12. 8 Individual Presidential Reform: Gates, Hutchins, and Bowman
    (pp. 71-81)

    Though college presidents for eight decades had generally been unsuccessful in effecting reform that would reduce commercialism and professionalism in intercollegiate sport, some uncommon presidents attempted to do so at their own institutions. After all, with the prestige of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching advocating presidential direction in reform, it was not illogical for several brave presidents to do so, including Thomas S. Gates at the University of Pennsylvania, Robert Maynard Hutchins at the University of Chicago, and John Bowman at the University of Pittsburgh. While the 1929 Carnegie Report gave some hope to the few reformers,...

  13. 9 Presidential Conference Reform: The 1930s Graham Plan Failure
    (pp. 81-88)

    The three president-initiated institutional reforms could be considered failures, for none of the three had a lasting impact on reform at the regional or national level. President Frank Graham of the University of North Carolina, however, had plans to reform the Southern Conference, and later to take his reforms nationally, at the time university leaders Thomas S. Gates, Robert Maynard Hutchins, and John Bowman were carrying out their reform plans at Pennsylvania, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. One would not have expected a reform movement to arise in the South, where athletics were perhaps more important for the image of southern colleges...

  14. 10 The NCAA and the Sanity Code: A National Reform Gone Wrong
    (pp. 88-99)

    The Sanity Code following World War II was to college athletic reform what President Woodrow Wilson’s “War to End All Wars” was to world peace following World War I. Neither worked. As the naïveté of the leaders of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) led to the belief that all would be well with the passage of the Sanity Code in 1948, Wilson’s idealism fed the idea that fighting a war would end future conflicts. It wasn’t the first time that Wilson had been the idealist, for he once believed, when he was president of Princeton University, that if the...

  15. 11 Ivy League Presidential Reform
    (pp. 99-108)

    Presidential reform had not succeeded in individual colleges in the 1930s, nor had the presidential reform Graham Plan met with success at the conference level. The national reform Sanity Code, undermined by a number of presidents specifically in the South, had died shortly after World War II. One league, however, with presidents in the lead, gave pause to skeptics, who felt that presidents could not or would not move in the direction of athletic reform. The Ivy League was, like the Big Ten a half century before, created by presidential reform leaders in higher education. The group of eastern institutions...

  16. 12 Scandals and the ACE Reform Effort in the 1950s
    (pp. 109-120)

    Not since the football crisis of 1905–6 had the nation experienced the need for intercollegiate athletic reform as it did during and after the scandalous year of 1951. Whereas the earlier crisis in football had been based upon brutality and questionable ethics under the existing football rules, the early 1950s crisis was the result of gambling and the fixing of basketball games, academic cheating, and racially inspired brutality. In the post–World War II era, basketball had come to join football in its level of public popularity, becoming the second most commercially viable intercollegiate sport. It is not surprising,...

  17. 13 Lowly Standards: Chaos in the Sports Yards
    (pp. 121-131)

    The scandals of 1951 led to no long-term, meaningful reform in college athletics. This was not unexpected, for past history would indicate that governing boards, presidents, alumni, and students, though not faculty, preferred the professionalized and commercialized model that had developed over the previous century. That model for men’s sport dated back to the first intercollegiate contest, a crew meet between Harvard and Yale sponsored by a new railroad passing through the vacationlands of New Hampshire. In 1852, there were no eligibility standards and students were in nearly complete control of their sports. A hundred years later, there were recruiting...

  18. 14 The Hanford Report, Rejected Reform, and Proposition 48
    (pp. 131-140)

    In the same month the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) convention decided to remove all national academic requirements for athletes to participate as freshmen and throughout their college years, the January 1973 peace agreement was reached, theoretically ending the Vietnam War. The war had brought social and economic turmoil, a conflict that began in 1959 and soon involved U.S. troop support and recognized combat troops beginning in 1965. Along with social unrest, a tremendous period of inflation resulted in America, and with it came the rising costs of running intercollegiate athletic programs. Inflation was the major reason why freshmen were...

  19. 15 Title IX and Governmental Reform in Women’s Athletics
    (pp. 141-150)

    Historically, reform generally originated within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), conferences, or individual institutions, but possibly the greatest reform in college athletics arose from federal legislation: Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972. With civil disorder resulting from the Vietnam War, civil rights turmoil, and the women’s movement, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that would have a major influence on gender equity, especially as it related to girls’ and women’s participation in sport. The push for gender equity, found in Title IX, arose not in athletics but in the hiring practice at the University of Maryland, where...

  20. 16 African Americans, Freshman Eligibility, and Forced Reform
    (pp. 151-164)

    If the women’s educational model was losing its impact during the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’s (AIAW’s) decade-long control of women’s sport, there was no comparable model for the participation of African Americans, men or women. While most collegiate African American athletes were in the historically black colleges for the period until the 1970s, their model had been the same traditional commercial-professional model of the dominant “white” institutions of higher learning. By the 1970s, there was a major effort to recruit talented black male athletes by the major northern and southern powers in both basketball and football. Not only...

  21. 17 Presidential Control, Minor Reform, and the Knight Commission
    (pp. 164-175)

    While major reform came from outside the universities in the form of federal legislation and judicial decisions, big-time college presidents wanted a greater say in how athletics were run. College presidents, since the beginning of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), had a great deal of power to control the direction taken by intercollegiate athletics if they desired to do so. After all, it was a college chancellor, Henry M. MacCracken, who called the meeting that set in motion the creation of a reform organization, the NCAA, at the conclusion of the 1905 football season of despair. During the twentieth...

  22. 18 NCAA Reorganization, the Board of Presidents’ Reform, and the APR
    (pp. 175-187)

    University presidents had not been the major leaders of reform after the creation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1905, but by the end of the century they demanded more power within the NCAA. The presidents, though they had just been successful in pushing for minor reforms, were not satisfied with being advisors under the NCAA’s Presidents Commission created in 1984. With incidents on nearly every campus of athletes breaking rules or committing serious violations of the law and institutions regularly violating NCAA recruiting and eligibility rules, presidents continually had to apologize or make excuses for their athletic...

  23. 19 Faculty Reform Efforts: CARE, the Drake Group, and COIA
    (pp. 187-197)

    University faculties for well over a century have generally been reticent to call for athletic reform, with some notable exceptions. Harvard and Princeton faculties in the 1880s decided they must do something to slow the dominance of intercollegiate athletics that was negatively influencing the education of their undergraduates. A Harvard athletic committee commented: “The necessity of regulation implies the existence of abuse.”¹ At that time, professionalizing the coaching staff, subsidizing athletes, playing contests all days of the week and sometimes against professional teams, conducting extended travel, and devoting too much time to athletics were reasons enough for faculty action. A...

  24. 20 The Freshman Rule: A Nearly Forgotten Reform
    (pp. 197-206)

    For much of the twentieth century, a nearly universal rule existed in American intercollegiate sport for men: the freshman ineligibility rule. However, when the first intercollegiate football game (a soccer-like match) took place between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, the question of freshman eligibility was not discussed, but it might well have been; ten of the twenty-five starting players on the winning Rutgers team were freshmen. On the one hand, senior William Leggett, the captain of the Rutgers team, was the outstanding scholar and athlete of his class by winning prizes in Latin, mathematics, and declamations; was president of his...

  25. Afterword
    (pp. 207-212)

    Reform in college athletics has meant different things to different individuals. For instance, freshman eligibility when passed in the late 1960s and early 1970s was considered financial reform by some. To others, it was inane from an academic standpoint, for freshman ineligibility had been a major academic integrity reform when introduced in the early 1900s. Similarly, after the Academic Progress Rate (APR) was instituted by the NCAA in 2003, the APR was hailed by those who produced it as a “watershed” reform, if not the greatest in the history of the NCAA. To others, it had not gone nearly far...

  26. Intercollegiate Athletic Reform Timeline
    (pp. 213-236)
  27. Notes
    (pp. 237-284)
  28. Bibliography
    (pp. 285-326)
  29. Index
    (pp. 327-344)
  30. Back Matter
    (pp. 345-348)