Fair Enough

Westbrook Pegler

Reading Eagle/October 31, 1956

The current scandal over cheap professionals and cheating against morals and ideals in the Western and Pacific Coast Football Conferences is an echo of similar uproars raised as long ago as 1905. In a half century, football has lost all but the vaguest resemblance to its old self on the field, but it is still incorrigibly corrupt amid the most pietistical conditions. Even institutions of learning managed by habited members of religious orders have put on “programs” with poor boys chosen for their ability to ring up enormous gate receipts in return for niggardly handouts in cash or in kind.

The introduction to a series of stories by Ned Jordan, a Wisconsin student, published in Collier’s in 1905, said this was “a description of the unacademic and demoralizing methods which are being employed by athletic directors and coaches, students and friends of the six largest midwestern universities in the modern chase for victory.”

The page was adorned with photographs of Frank O. Smith and Walter McCornack (repeat McCornack) of Northwestern University and George Huff, of Illinois. Smith was the athletic manager at Northwestern and McCornack and Huff were coaches. The text said Smith had followed athletic methods which he knew to be “wrong,” that Huff’s ethics were “changed by defeat” and that McCornack got a $500 bonus for victory. David Starr Jordan, the president of Leland Stanford, said “the evils of football center mainly about the use of money, which, when used no matter how subtly,” was an agent of demoralization.

“It is necessary that no football man be allowed to receive money from any source in consideration of his playing,” Doctor Jordan insisted. “This excludes him from scholarships, gifts from alumni or citizens, from sinecure positions and any of the hundred opportunities of attending college without paying the cost.”

Huff said “there are more liars and hypocrites than amateurs made through the efforts of colleges to keep within the conference rules.” Smith and McCornack said the campaign for men carried on by the friends of the universities had made a grafter of every athlete of ability in the West.

Ned Jordan wrote that the University of Chicago was “a monument to the Standard Oil.”

“Millions from the rebate-bulging coffers of John D. Rockefeller have contributed to the building for a great institution in one short decade. Many are given scholarships and a remission of tuition for student service. Through this Chicago found it possible to check the bids of the scrambling colleges which were competing for high school players and even for men with full varsity careers behind them at small colleges.

“Walter Eckersall, quarterback and All American end, is an athletic ward of the University of Chicago, retained to build her athletic prestige. Walter MacChesney, a Chicago business man, offered him his entire expenses to go to Michigan. He was short three of the minimum credits for the most poorly prepared freshman. He received tuition for the entire course. Twice he was disqualified for poor academic work but never during football season. His studies were always ‘made up’ at that time.”

Chicago finally quit football under Robert Maynard Hutchins, but not for the moral purpose of decontaminating a corrupt football institution. Chicago was almost effeminate in football by that time and the varsity was pathetic, derided even on its own campus. Certainly there were no pros at Chicago then, so the decision to quit was directed at a beloved crooked and inexplicable freak of “The American Way.”

(Source: Google News, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&dat=19561031&id=jw8rAAAAIBAJ&sjid=I5oFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1639,6562055)