SI Vault
October 29, 1956
In a striking confirmation of Sports Illustrated's recent survey, Big Ten leaders lay it on the line: clean up the game or watch it die in chaos
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 29, 1956

Big Ten And Nine Points

In a striking confirmation of Sports Illustrated's recent survey, Big Ten leaders lay it on the line: clean up the game or watch it die in chaos

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

POINT EIGHT: The responsibility for proper practices of recruitment and subsidization of players should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the head football coach. "In our plan, coaches are putting their jobs on the line if they deviate. So, for that matter, are the schools; if investigation were to show that such deviation is part of a school's policy, in all likelihood the school would be thrown out of the conference."

POINT NINE: The "athletic dormitory" and the year-round training table should be abolished. "Under our present rules, the year-round training table is prohibited. The athletic dormitory does not exist in the Big Ten, though there is no rule against it. But we would make one if necessary."

The six men who worked on the Big Ten survey and drew up the tentative program for reform, which Commissioner Wilson was comparing with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Nine Points for Survival, are all of them closely identified with the game. Their opinions carry the full weight of experts who for years have stood on the firing line: H. O. (Fritz) Crisler of Michigan, Ivan Williamson of Wisconsin, Verne C. Freeman of Purdue, Leslie W. Scott of Michigan State and Commissioner Wilson himself. And there was no doubt that they shared SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's concern for the future of the game. Facts and figures gathered in the seven months' investigation and published in their survey made the crisis threateningly clear:

RECRUITMENT: "Out of 258 Conference football lettermen in 1955, 246 had been interviewed or corresponded with prior to matriculation, by football staff members. Of the remaining 12, only six came to college with no knowledge on the part of the football staffs of their college intentions.... In other words, more than 95% had been actively recruited and almost 98% had been screened.

"Campus visits prior to matriculation for the purpose of interviews with coaching staffs are the rule. A survey indicates upwards of 500 prospective student-athletes will visit each Conference school this year.... Entertainment of prospects in 1946 was an incidental expense, but for the current year averages almost $5,000, running as high as $13,600. Whereas in 1946 it was exceptional for visiting [prospects] to be provided meals or lodging, today over 95% receive either or both.

"With respect to alumni or friends of the school, these individuals are being systematically organized into clubs for the specific purpose of inspiring contacts and arranging campus visits, in contrast to the original Conference concept of individual and voluntary alumni activity....

"The trend is reflected in the development of the prospect as a 'shopper' and the emergence of a type known as the 'peddler,' who may be a parent, a high school coach, or a self-appointed agent. Their activity is illustrated by printed 'fliers' which the Committee has seen, prepared to advertise the wares of a boy for the interest of coaches. Conference coaches have received offers to induce the enrollment of outstanding prospects on a fee basis. There actually was an attempt in Chicago, only recently, to set up a clearing house in the nature of a central recruiting bureau which would provide information on prospects including their abilities and their interests."

SUBSIDIZATION: "The marked increase in the volume of aids to athletes can be documented. On the basis of reports filed with his office the Commissioner estimates this increase (covering unearned aid and on-campus jobs but excluding off-campus employment) to be almost 550% since 1948.

"The average amount of aid per athlete, according to this study, has increased from $47 in 1948 to $260 in 1955. These amounts are not imposing, although one school reports aid to 187 listed as athletes amounting to $759 per man, because the base takes in all athletes, in all sports, and includes freshmen numeral winners in all sports as well. The figures...become imposing when they represent the aid to varsity football and basketball players. A special study has just been completed, covering nine schools and their 370 football and basketball lettermen in 1955-56. This shows unearned and campus job assistance for those squad members totaling $225,637, or an average of $609.83 for each individual....

"Between 1948 and 1955 the volume of unearned aid to athletes, as reported to the Conference, jumped from $56,694 to $348,688—an increase of more than 600%. (This increase paralleled, but practically doubled, an estimated 310% increase in scholarship aids to Conference undergraduate students generally, which are reported to have gone from $916,000 to $2,850,000 in the same period.)

Continue Story
1 2 3 4