Cover

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Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

I am indebted to many for enabling me to bring this story of Big Ten football to a wide audience. Laurie Matheson, the director of the University of Illinois Press, has provided wise counsel, Julianne Rose Laut assisted in putting the manuscript into shape, and an anonymous outside reader made valuable suggestions about the entire enterprise. Daniel M. Nasset has been both a demanding and an encouraging editor of my manuscript at the University of Illinois Press, and I am grateful to him....

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Prologue

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pp. 1-10

This book is a history of the Big Ten athletic conference in its formative years. It is primarily concerned with the relation between higher education and intercollegiate football in the nation’s preeminent athletic conference in the twentieth century. The Big Ten, or the Western Conference as it was known, began with two basic commitments—the amateur athletic code and faculty control of intercollegiate athletics. The two were never well suited to American athletic culture. Americans play to win, not for love of the game, and the coaches made football

Part One: From Disorder to Order

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pp. 11-12

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1. The Beginning of the Big Ten

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pp. 13-31

In January 1895 the presidents of six leading midwestern universities—William Rainey Harper of Chicago, Andrew S. Draper of Illinois, Cyrus K. Northrup of Minnesota, Henry W. Rogers of Northwestern, James H. Smart of Purdue, and Charles K. Adams of Wisconsin—met in Chicago to discuss football. President James B. Angell of the University of Michigan was expected but did not appear. The presidents objected to the alleged brutality of football but did not know how to stop it without abolishing the game, which they did not wish to do. Most of...

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2. Michigan Withdraws from the Conference

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pp. 32-49

When the dark side of intercollegiate football required corrective action, President Angell called on the faculty representatives to reform the game. In January 1906 the conference took constructive measures, but the news of their handiwork startled the member institutions.1 At Illinois, the senate adopted a recommendation that football be abolished as an intercollegiate sport in the conference colleges. Evarts B. Greene, a history professor and dean of the liberal arts college, responding to a proposal to wait for the Rules Committee to modify the...

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3. The Crisis over Amateurism

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pp. 50-66

Professionalism was the norm for most public athletic competitions in early nineteenth century America, but amateurism—sport for the sake of sport—emerged at Oxford and Cambridge in the late nineteenth century. The Amateur Athletic Club in London popularized it, and upper-class Englishmen proclaimed the gospel as a means of excluding their social inferiors.1...

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4. The Conference and the War

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pp. 67-74

The war that engulfed the nation in April 1917 transformed intercollegiate athletics. College athletes along with other students rushed off in large numbers to the battle, while the colleges devoted their energies to winning the war. In June, shortly after the United States declared war on Germany, E. P. Harding (Minnesota) introduced in the conference a resolution of his university’s senate “that intercollegiate athletics be suspended until after the war.” Albion Small (Chicago) countered that the conference should accept the recommendation of the president...

Part Two: From Order to Disorder

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pp. 75-76

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5. The Big Ten in the Golden Age of Sports

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pp. 77-94

The cultural context of the 1920s shaped intercollegiate athletics. The war emergency had, according to Reed College president William T. Foster, “justified anew the most persistent of the many charges brought against intercollegiate athletics” during the previous decade. The nation, he said in an address to the National Education Association, had been “annually graduating a few men of extraordinary athletic ability and many men of undeveloped intellectual power. In athletics a few only are highly trained; the majority not at all.” The customary “policy of vicarious athletics” meant that there were not enough available intercollegiate athletes to...

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6. The Commissioner and the Conference

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pp. 95-108

John L. Griffith, the new Big Ten Conference commissioner, was at the University of Illinois at the time of his appointment. Born on August 20, 1875, in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, he prepared in the local high school and the Warren Academy and attended Beloit College, where he studied history and economics, made an enviable record as an all-around athlete, and graduated AB in 1902. He coached athletics at Yankton College in South Dakota from 1902 to 1905, at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, from 1905 to 1908, and then at Drake University in...

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7. The Big Ten Stadiums

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pp. 109-121

The stadium as a structure to accommodate spectators assembled to watch events of various types has a history extending back to ancient Greece. The most famous example of the type is the Coliseum, which had a capacity of over fifty thousand and was a symbol of ancient Rome. The modern equivalent is the football stadium, the college version of which became iconic in America.1...

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8. Red Grange and the Lure of Professional Football

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pp. 122-132

John Griffith and Big Ten officials were professedly committed to amateurism in intercollegiate athletics. They viewed professional football as a threat to the college game. But pro football had been establishing roots since the turn of the century, and the link between intercollegiate and professional football was tightened in the mid-1920s by the career of Harold “Red” Grange....

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9. The Conference at Work

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pp. 133-150

Big Ten football gained a large and zealous following in the 1920s not only among the students, faculty, and alumni of the member universities but also among the public in the Midwest and in the nation at large. In all likelihood, fans knew little and cared less about the structure and operating procedures of the parent organization, the Intercollegiate Conference, which had no constitution but did have operating procedures. The chairman of each session of the faculty representatives was chosen by rotation, while the members elected the secretary. Those present...

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10. The True Spirit of the University

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pp. 151-163

By 1925 the Big Ten had decades of experience in intercollegiate athletics. Although committed to amateur athletics, the conference found it difficult to maintain the amateur code. Football brought large gate receipts; few were willing to criticize a game that reputedly built character and united the college crowd. And yet a saving remnant voiced concern about the damaging influence of collegiate athletics on academic values....

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11. The Carnegie Report

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pp. 164-171

Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1905. Henry S. Pritchett, the foundation’s president, made it a valuable agency for the improvement of American education. Pritchett cared for sports pursued for fun, and as president of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology he had impressed his views on sportsmanship on an institution of higher learning. He was struck by the exaggerated importance attached to sports in the American college, especially football, and under his direction the foundation published a...

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12. The Big Ten Censures Iowa

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pp. 172-198

College football became enormously popular during the 1920s, and the career of Red Grange riveted attention on the Big Ten. Commissioner Griffith admitted to problems in conference athletics, but he was a booster, and people loved boosters. At the same time, a saving remnant called attention to the need to reconcile football with higher education. They went unheard. This was the context in which dramatic events in the conference played out....

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13. Cross Currents

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pp. 199-221

The Great God Football ruled the nation’s higher education when Abraham Flexner declared that American universities “are all mad on the subject of competitive and intercollegiate athletics—too timid to tell their respective alumni that excessive interest in intercollegiate athletics is proof of the cultural mediocrity of the college graduate, and a source of continuous demoralization to successive college classes.” The colleges could not quickly improve the secondary schools, but with “intelligence and courage” they could tell the world that their problem...

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14. Closing Out Half a Century

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pp. 222-238

In the late 1930s the Big Ten operated in a challenging political, economic, and cultural climate. The Great Depression and the European dictators were the background of the 1936 presidential campaign. Griffith served on a national committee to put Alf Landon into the White House, but Roosevelt won in a landslide. In a postelection effusion, Griffith lamented that the American people now believed in an omnipotent and providential state. The free enterprise system was being discarded in favor of the totalitarian idea. In a system of state capitalism, athletics in...

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Epilogue

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pp. 239-242

The American university is unique among the universities of the world in combining academic programs and commercialized athletics under the same roof. In other parts of the world the university is for higher learning, and for that alone. Students may participate in athletic sports if they wish, but in extramural venues. Since the United States contains many of the best universities in the world, a question arises as to the relation between commercialized intercollegiate athletics, the American university, and American intellectual and cultural life....

Appendix 1: Conference Rules

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pp. 243-246

Appendix 2: Faculty Representatives

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pp. 247-250

Notes

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pp. 251-280

Bibliography

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pp. 281-298

Index

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pp. 299-304