Maynard Hutchins, tart-tongued boy wonder of 30, was leaving Yale Law School to
become president of the University of Chicago he cast a baleful eye toward the
Yale Bowl and prophesied, with an overtone that included all of intercollegiate
football: "That will be an archeological ruin in 25 years."
Yale's Bowl and
intercollegiate football in general both managed to survive the succeeding 30
years, but Hutchins did bring a measure of truth to his prophecy at Chicago,
which in 1939 dropped out of the Big Ten Conference and gave up all
years the ranks of those who subscribed to the dyspeptic Hutchins view swelled
visibly. As the desire for winning teams and the player-recruiting frenzy in
the Big Ten mounted, it posed a patent threat to academic integrity in an
educational complex whose students (207,000) number more than those of all the
universities in Great Britain.
"It began to
look," Assistant Big Ten Commissioner Bill Reed told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Correspondent Nick Thimmesch last week, "as though our football would be
strictly professional by 1971. We had reached a critical point between
athletics and education."
The result, in
1956, was a thoroughgoing faculty examination of the whole problem, a study
which led to the enactment of a series of rules so strict as to cause an
occasional raised eyebrow in even the de-emphasized Ivy League.
play-for-pay scholarship ride, with make-work tasks that were never performed
by athletes, was replaced by a regulation permitting the granting of
scholarships to athletes only if their families could show need, and then only
if the boy was in the upper two-thirds of his high school class. Recruiting
tactics were strictly circumscribed, and special athlete curriculums were
Many Big Ten
coaches howled in pain. "What we're looking for under this code is a
penniless genius with muscles," moaned Northwestern's Ara Parseghian.
"If this keeps up," warned Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty, "the
caliber of Big Ten football will drop badly." "Socialistic,
communistic, foolish and unrealistic," said Iowa's Forest Evashevski.
But the net result
was a notable rise in the academic standings of Big Ten athletes (where only
75% of conference lettermen had once graduated, the figure rose closer to 90%),
a commendable easing of faculty-football tension and no discernible lessening
of enthusiasm among the three million fans who still flock to Big Ten games
each year. Even Evashevski has at last admitted a preference for smarter
athletes. "After all," is the way he puts it, "they're running up
and down the field with my paycheck in their hands. They'd better be
Today control by
faculty has largely replaced control by the low I.Q., high-income alumnus in
Big Ten football. The control varies from tight at Minnesota, Michigan and
Wisconsin to slight at Indiana, Northwestern and Iowa (schools which are still
in phases of football excitement the others have already passed through), but
control it is. As a consequence, the professors are no longer screaming for
abolition. On a recent tour of the Big Ten to sound out faculty feeling
Correspondent Thimmesch found a measure of downright enthusiasm. " Big Ten
schools are growing up," Ohio State's Alfred Garrett told him.
run each and every one of the Big Ten schools at one time or another," said
Minnesota's Dean Athelstan Spilhaus. "Now we have a more sensible attitude