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August 27, 1956
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August 27, 1956

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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I have read with more than ordinary interest the two articles, The College Football Crisis (SI, Aug. 6 & 13). The editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Herman Hickman are to be complimented for the most temperate, reasoned and constructive article on intercollegiate football which has appeared in many a moon. In presenting the candid viewpoints of college presidents, coaches and alumni boosters you have given a graphic picture of the present uncertainty and unrest which characterize many segments of the college game.

The success of this article was due in no small part to the motivation which prompted it, namely, "a strong and enduring attachment to the game." It is this same motivation which leads me to comment at some length on your article and to encourage you to press home your aspirations for football's future health and vitality. In your "Nine Points for Survival" you have provided a realistic framework which, if scrupulously followed by all colleges, would soon eliminate the major abuses which are now a plague to the game.

The chief merit to your nine points is the fact that they are practical, workable and would strengthen rather than weaken the intercollegiate football program of any university with the courage to adopt them. Why am I so certain about this? Simply because they happen to coincide in almost every respect with the basic regulations which have guided our football destinies at Notre Dame (not unsuccessfully we think) for many decades:

1) A prospective athlete must meet the standard entrance requirements of the university. We lose many excellent high school athletes to state institutions whose entrance requirements are not as strict as ours. We do not feel, however, that this is a real loss. In our experience the better students give superior performances on the gridiron.

2) To be eligible for competition, an athlete must maintain a 77% academic average even though 70% is a passing grade. This insures that he is making normal progress toward a degree. Only two letter men in the past decade have failed to graduate from Notre Dame.

3) All grants-in-aid to athletes are administered directly by the university on the basis of the student's need. Booster groups and alumni donations for athletics are taboo. A coach who would encourage under-the-table help for a boy would be summarily dismissed. The alumnus who participated in anything like this would be persona non grata at the university.

4) A boy's grant-in-aid will never exceed the basic costs of his education, namely, board, room, tuition, books and laundry. Under no circumstances do we permit a boy to receive any cash benefits. If he accepted such emoluments he would lose his scholarship, and if a coach were party to such a deal, either directly or indirectly, he would be fired.

5) A boy's scholarship is not dependent upon his performance on the gridiron. Once he is given a scholarship it continues for four years whether he ever dons a football uniform or not. Academic failure and disciplinary action are the sole causes for cancellation of grants-in-aid. This policy is aimed at one of the most serious abuses still prevalent in too many schools where a boy is given a one-year scholarship which is not renewed if he fails to make the team.

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