SI Vault
February 20, 1956
The football fortunes of the Huskies mean a lot to Seattle and to Torchy Torrance, the city's hustling builder-upper. A report on how he almost loved his favorite team to death
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
February 20, 1956

Boosters Mess It Up In Washington

The football fortunes of the Huskies mean a lot to Seattle and to Torchy Torrance, the city's hustling builder-upper. A report on how he almost loved his favorite team to death

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6

The ax of dismissal fell on Cherberg on January 27. The next day he started talking, and his righteous indignation was busting out all over. "The filthiest thing in the world," he said, "is to corrupt young Americans with dough. I may never coach again, but, God willing, I'm not going to let them corrupt any more kids." Later he added: "I went along, all right—with the full knowledge of my superiors. No coach has any other choice under the unrealistic rules which prevail in the Coast Conference and others like it."

Everyone else around the campus seemed quite stunned at the thought that football players were receiving extracurricular salaries. Said Harvey Cassill: "To the best of my knowledge, no coach or myself has at any time willfully violated the conference rules.... Neither I nor any member of my department has had any relationship with any so-called fund."

The president of the university, Henry Schmitz, echoed the denial: "I want to say at once that these suggestions simply are not true." A re-echo came from Vice-President H. P. (Dick) Everest, a former president of the Pacific Coast Conference, who announced: "Were I to receive evidence that any player has been receiving anything like outside monthly payments, I would immediately declare him disqualified for team participation." The board of regents? Said its chairman, Mrs. J. Herbert Gardner, who with her husband, an insurance man, is a long-time friend of Harvey Cassill: "I know nothing about it at all."

But the blast effect of Johnny Cherberg's talk kept spreading out.

The commissioner of the Pacific Coast Conference, Victor 0. Schmidt of Los Angeles, dropped in at Seattle on a "routine" visit and held a closed-door meeting with Cherberg's assistant coaches. Inevitably, the Pacific Coast Conference would have to consider the evidence of the violation of its own rules.

Even the federal government pricked up its official ears. William E. Frank, district director of internal revenue, warned the football players that money from Torrance's fund would have to be reported as income on tax returns.

Torchy Torrance himself, the man who was only doing his best to boost Husky football, seemed stunned by such phrases as "slush fund" and puzzled by his new role as public villain.

Last week, with Washington split wide open, Athletic Director Harvey Cassill sat down and wrote out his resignation: "If it was right for me to separate John Cherberg from his coaching responsibilities—and it was—then I must now resign myself."

Washington was just beginning to face up to the lessons of football zealotry.

"Education in sport," said a voice last October, "aims also at developing in the young the virtues proper to this activity. These are, among others, loyalty that excludes taking refuge in subterfuges, docility and obedience to the wide commands of the director charged with the training of the team, the spirit of self-renunciation when one has to fade into the background in order that the interests of the team may thereby be furthered, fidelity to obligations undertaken, modesty in victory, sereneness in adverse fortune...."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6