Rockne Leaves, Roasting Columbia

Westbrook Pegler

New York Daily News/December 14, 1925

Athletic Board to Investigate Row Over Coach

Knute K. Rockne, a wizard on his own home grounds but something of a hick on Broadway, was bound for home last night, convinced that the fountain pen is more deadly than the blackjack.

After signing a sort of contract: to coach Columbia’s football team for the next three years, Rockne had seen enough of Columbia’s methods in twenty-four hours to prompt h:m to say: “I’d rather sweep the streets than coach for that school.”

Knapp Takes Cover

James R. Knapp, the chairman of the Columbia football committee, has succeeded Rockne in the role of vanishing American. Whereas the Notre Dame coach made himself absent during the uproar of Saturday, Rockne yesterday made himself available and Knapp took cover.

Somewhere in this controversy between a famous football coach and a millionaire New York lawyer, one lied like a cop on the witness stand and the committee on athletics of Columbia university will meet today or soon thereafter to investigate.

Says Knute.

Rockne has been assured that his job as Notre Dame’s coach and chemistry instructor is still his job.

“Knapp tried to blackjack me into signing a new and binding agreement to coach Columbia by giving publicity to our preliminary agreement after I had told him the deal was off,” Rockne said yesterday. “He was going to try to drive me out of football if I refused to sign the new contract anyway. Well, that’s over. My one regret is that I wasn’t dealing with a gentleman. If I had been dealing with a real man this wouldn’t have happened. I hope to remain in football, but not at Columbia. I’d rather sweep the streets.”

Butler Not Interested.

President Nicholas Murray Butter took just enough interest in the dark smear on his school’s escutcheon to say that he wasn’t interested at ail.

At the showdown Saturday night Knapp begged Rockne to omit from his statement the paragraph revealing that he, Knapp, had been told the deal was off three days before he made it public. But Rockne was sore and he told him: “No, you tried to make me out as yellow and I won’t do anything for you now.”

Rockne was at first willing to collaborate on a statement which would let Columbia down easy on the charge of tampering with another school’s contracted coach.

Lies, Says Rockne.

But while Rockne was waiting to wash up the matter, Knapp caused a statement to be issued which Rockne now says contained several downright lies. Knapp had an opportunity to affirm and prove the truth of these statements during the meeting with Rockne Saturday, but those who were present say he didn’t.

Charley Crowley, Columbia’s coach this year, is not expected to return. Columbia men say Crowley also has been treated in a very stealthy manner and that he probably would refuse a reappointment.

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