"Enigmas aside, one of the most striking results of the Pitt study is the variety of occupations pursued by our lettermen. An expected prevalence of coaches among them has not materialized. Only 8% are coaches or athletic administrators, and of that number three-fourths double as teacher-coaches. While delighted that our athletes have not gravitated into a homogeneous lump, we do not look down on the coaching profession; in it we find not only men who have achieved national prominence but, more importantly, lesser-known men who have demonstrated a singular dedication to athletics that cannot help but freshen the atmosphere in sport. Of the nonathlete who finds it difficult to comprehend the attraction that sport has for grown men, we might ask: why did Johnny Chickerneo, the shaggy, bow-legged quarterback of Pitt's celebrated 1938 Dream Backfield, abandon a burgeoning career as a high-salaried petroleum engineer to become a high school football coach? When he might have otherwise held an executive's chair in the oil industry, Chickerneo today provides excellent guidance to the youth of Highland Park, Ill.
What motivates the strange behavior of Edward J. Hirshberg, a large, rumpled man who owns two radio stations, much real estate, a large retail establishment, eight racehorses and a gentleman's farm? Each day in the fall, at about 3 o'clock, Eddie Hirshberg drives to the campus of Carnegie Tech. There he changes into sweatshirt and football knickers and marches onto the practice field, where he is known as head coach of Tech's simon-pure, sometimes scrawny but always spirited football squad.
Are such men merely pursuing lost youth? Taking into account their obvious intelligence, perhaps a better explanation is one Hirshberg offers. "In a sense," he says, "I'm trying to overcome intellectualism. I'm trying to make my players realize they need something more in life than their intellects. Youth today has so much classroom ability, so much mental capacity, and yet often no confidence. I believe football gives these boys the courage and confidence that enable them to direct themselves."
As we review the good ends to which Pitt lettermen have come, we have, of course, no way of knowing how many of these men would have lacked the means to enter college had it not been for the practice of granting aid to athletes. Yet we suspect the percentage of needy athletes was great—indeed, probably a majority. Old hands in our athletic department remember them coming from the mining towns and the mill towns and the city slums. From the nearby steel city of Youngstown, Ohio came Joe Donchess. His father dead, he had quit school in the sixth grade, had worked four years and become an electrician. But one day a prep school offered him an athletic grant. And still later another athletic grant put him in Pitt. At 165 pounds Joe Donchess became an All-America end (1929) and today is chief surgeon of U.S. Steel's Gary works and subsidiary plants. "If it had not been for Pitt's athletic aid," says Dr. Joe Donchess, "I would not have gotten near a university."
Everett (Speed) Utterback, son of a Kentucky Negro bricklayer, wandered north in the late 1920s seeking opportunity. In New York City he worked as a redcap in the Pennsylvania Station and sometimes as a dining car waiter. After making the New York-to-Altoona run one day, his dining car was lopped off the return trip because of mechanical difficulties. Finding himself only 100 miles from Pittsburgh, Utter-back decided to look up Pitt Track Coach Frank Shea and plead for a college education. He won the IC4A broad jump championship two straight years and today is general counsel and deputy administrator of the Pittsburgh Housing Authority. Similarly, a Negro halfback named Jimmy Joe Robinson, son of a chauffeur, tells us he would not have been exposed to higher education had it not been for an athletic grant. He later became pastor of the Brotherhood United Presbyterian Church, Wichita, Kans.—a church which, with a congregation that is 75% white, is said to be the only appreciably integrated church in Kansas.
One could go on citing distinguished beneficiaries of the sports system, yet how would that prove that assistance to athletes serves a legitimate function on a college campus? Obviously there is no proof. But this much we know from our survey to be fact: the overwhelming majority of our lettermen have made something of themselves. They are, in the end, our best argument for vigorous intercollegiate athletics and our best reminder that we now must give nothing less than a 100% effort to see that our sports programs are not discredited and perhaps even destroyed by those misguided few among us who have no respect for the rules.