"There is only one difficulty," I explained. "You were all offered a scholarship here by an anonymous benefactor on condition that you would not compete in intercollegiate athletics. You see, we have a long-standing rule here against transfers competing. It eliminates any temptation of inducing good players to transfer from other schools. If you have any doubt about the necessity of such a rule, I can quote you some all-Americans at other schools who began here. Now you can play all the intramural sports you wish, but we are on record for this other principle. And without preaching, I'd like to add that part of the education here consists in learning to live by principle rather than by expediency."
"O.K., Father," he said, "it's your funeral."
"Well, I'm not singing the requiem yet," I countered. " Frank Leahy is a great coach. Injuries could ruin us, but we'll be praying that we don't have any."
SMALL SQUAD, BIG YEAR
I wish that I had met the lad again after the season. Frank Leahy did one of the best coaching jobs of his career with that small squad, and we had no serious injuries, thank God. By the end of the season, we had beaten the conference champions of the Southwest Conference, the Big Seven Conference, the Pacific Coast Conference and the co-champions of the Western ( Big Ten) Conference and tied the Ivy League champions.
Perhaps the most cogent argument for the compatibility of athletics and collegiate endeavor is the fact that I know of only two of our monogram men in the past ten years who failed to win a diploma during the normal course of their life at school. Moreover these athletes did not take fresh-air courses because we do not have any.
Normally, our varsity players are rather evenly distributed throughout the undergraduate colleges of Arts and Letters, Commerce, Engineering and Science. A surprising number of them, like our present twenty-six-year-old head football coach, Terry Brennan, go to Law School after graduating. Incidentally, Terry majored in philosophy as an undergraduate, and I can say, after having had him as a student in class, that he performed as well there as on the field. As for the record over the years, look at the present professional and business standing of the famous Four Horsemen of the twenties, and you will feel less need to apologize for intercollegiate athletics.
The third and last working principle I mentioned earlier is that athletes should live a normal collegiate life. This means that before they come to the university they should be offered only the opportunity to receive an education. Under-the-table deals are doubly cheating a boy. First, they confront him at an impressionable age with the worst possible aspect of double-dealing and graft, giving him a disreputable standard of values?and from educational institutions of all places. Secondly, if the boy wants to play for money, he would get much more from the professional teams who are organized to do this. I suspect that many of the so-called offers "from thirty or forty schools" are embellished in the telling, but where there is so much smoke, I suppose that there may lurk a convertible or two.
The least a university can do in this regard is to tell its alumni and friends exactly where it stands and then to investigate thoroughly any reports to the contrary. The worst that a university can do is to play the three monkeys who see, hear and speak no evil. I assume that with the pressures that do exist for winning teams, well-meaning but ill-advised alumni and friends will cut corners at times?but not for long unless the university insists on seeing and hearing nothing.
THE SURE GUARANTEE