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Harvey Knox
September 06, 1954
The most controversial football story of the year broke last month when Ronnie Knox, star freshman quarterback in 1953 and previously a high school All-American, abruptly transferred from the University of California to U.C.L.A. The action cost young Knox a year of eligibility and brought charges that Ronnie's stepfather, Harvey Othel Knox, a handsome ex-haberdasher, was attempting to exploit the boy. Harvey was accused of interfering with Ronnie's coaches, of counseling other players to sell their services dearly and of making extreme monetary demands on the university. Now, for the first time, Harvey Knox tells In his own words his own side of the story.
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September 06, 1954

Why Ronnie Knox Quit California

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That same night, a Bay Area newspaperman tipped me off that one of Waldorf's assistants had said that as long as he was on the staff Ronnie Knox would never make the first club. This did not perturb me. I had suspected as much. But I determined that although Ronnie would lose a year of eligibility, there had to be a day of reckoning.

I decided that Ronnie would get out of Cal.

We talked about the transfer for five days. Anyone who knows what it means to a 19-year-old to give up a year of eligibility will know how disgusted Ronnie had to be with conditions at California. We talked about three things: 1) His grades; they had fallen off sadly. 2) His progress in the writing profession; it was almost nil. 3) His athletic prowess; as anybody in his right mind could see, he could prove nothing at California since Pappy Waldorf apparently believes that the quarterback is merely the eleventh man on a team. Anyone knows a winning team must have a thinking quarterback.

After the discussion, Ronnie decided he would like to pursue his education in Southern California. I was able to secure a job for him at Allied Artists. And it was decided that Ronnie would go to U.C.L.A., which is the southern metropolitan campus for the University of California and I suppose the rival Cal would most like to beat next to Stanford. Ronnie may have some interesting afternoons later when we meet Cal.


So that is the story of the "Migratory Knoxes." I will close it with one small piece of advice to any young athlete who is being rushed by several universities:

Last year a boy who was an outstanding fullback in junior college came to me, troubled. He'd been offered a down payment on a car and all kinds of well-paying jobs from a certain school. "I can't figure how I could make that kind of money and be eligible," he said. "I've also heard this school doesn't live up to its promises. What should I do?"

I answered as follows: "Son, it is relatively simple. Next time this Curbstone Cutie calls, tell him that if you accept even a promise over and above what is sanctioned, you are ineligible. Tell him you even doubt the promises.

"However, tell this cutie that if he will bring over $1,500 in cash to be worked out over the years, and if he will arrange for you to get the maximum allowable per month under the rules, you will consider enrolling at his college."

Well, this boy did as I told him. Needless to say, the proselyter blew up. He spent two hours and fifteen minutes on the phone trying to find out who the blankety-blank this kid had been talking to.

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