The Rise of the Modern Athletic Department at the
University of Washington
A study of the athletic scholarship from 1955 to 1975
When I originally started my research for this paper I was attempting to trace the history
of the full-ride scholarship athlete at the University of Washington. I was seeking to
determine who or what team was the first to receive a full-ride athletic scholarship in
comparison to what is common practice within today‟s intercollegiate athletics programs.
While doing this research I had some personal assumptions that would be changed as I
went through the process of historical reconstruction. I believe that in writing this paper
it is important that I list those assumptions here as a starting point:
st1 – I believed that the athletic department, which is a recognized department in the
University of Washington, used some amount of state money in its daily operations for
such things as tuition, room & board, and tutors for student athletes.
nd2- I believed that the President of the University is the man or woman in charge of the
Athletic Director who is in charge of the hiring or firing of coaches.
As the research process started I found that in order to trace scholarships within athletics
along with Athletic Department monies I would need to focus on football. As the three
thare or have been tied together since the beginning of the 20 century (30). With a little
more investigation into the modern Husky Athletic Department Website I found that the
department is in fact financially independent from the state of Washington and the
University. At this point I was already starting to determine new questions needing to be answered within my research.
The last stand for my original topic came within the class period when Carver Gayton spoke on the racial unrest within the UW football team during 1969. Within class Mr. Gayton spoke of his private conversation with Joe Kearny, the Athletic Director in 1969, in which Kearny said that if it was up to him he would have fired Jim Owens during 1969, but he could not due to the forces within the state and local community. During that presentation I asked myself, who were these individuals that would not allow the head of a department to not be able to fire an individual within his department after a gross episode of misconduct.
With my mounting questions, along with an article in The Seattle Times (16) by Bob
th which detailed the Husky Athletic Departments multimillion Condotta on February 8
dollar profits over the past 20 years, I reformed my project thesis and determined that the question I wished to attempt to answer would be as follows:
If a department at the University of Washington has averaged roughly 2 to 3 million dollars per year in net profits over the past 20 years, making it the only department to turn a profit at the University of Washington, is it not a private business? And how did this come to pass?
In order to answer this question I continued to gather background information on football processes at the University of Washington along with the other regional schools with which it competed athletically. I would end up having to compare histories from the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) and the Pac-8 versus what was occurring at similar times within the Athletic Department at the UW. The changes that were occurring in the Athletic Department at the UW similarly were happening on a national level due to rules changes by the NCAA. Hence, through triangulation of local papers (Seattle Times,
Seattle P-I, Angus, UW Daily) along with the histories of the NCAA and the Athletic
Conferences I was able to establish a framework for locating when the changes occurred within the UW Athletic Department.
Likewise by culling through articles within the newspapers along with interviews of the Athletic Director, Jim Owens, I was able to determine Athletic Department Revenue totals for certain years before 1975 in order to provide a reference tool looking at the incredible rise in the amount of revenue generated. I could then correlate the increased revenue streams to the rise of the full-ride athletic scholarship. Therefore I will initially present some background information so that the context of the period of time can be more readily understood within the framework of history.
th century, I have found that there During the rise of the modern university during the 20
can be found an equally rapid rise of a modern athletic department step for step within many of these same universities. This phenomenon, which is unique to the United States higher education system, has seen the rise of what could be argued by Philip Bailey (Argus, 1967) to be a semi-professional league formed under the watch of both public
and private university presidents. The meteoric increase of costs and therefore revenue within the University of Washington Athletic Department during the period of time from 1957 through the enactment of Title XI in 1974 seems to be directly related to the arrival of the full athletic scholarship, otherwise known as the “full-ride”. This paper is a
reconstruction of this 20 year period at the University of Washington during the rise of the modern athletic department. The paper will begin its focus at the beginning of the Jim Owens era, before the use of full-ride scholarships, through to the rise of the women‟s intercollegiate athletics at the UW during the era of full scholarships.
As we have found in our study of the history of higher education, money and power have been at the heart of the all of the movements in the realm of higher education. The same can found to be true in the birth of an independent department that is both financially and power independent from the university except in name. Unfortunately I found, that the investigation of athletics and scholarships at a university such as Washington, much to my chagrin as mentioned earlier, is really a history of intercollegiate division I football.
My original intent was to investigate the first full athletic scholarship athletes at the
University of Washington, but to do this requires the investigation of the rise of football
at the UW, which in turns leads to the rise of the modern athletic department.
Thus within this paper I will attempt to chart out the forces that caused the transformation
from student funded club( Joe Kearny, Daily, 23) into a fully functional multi-million
dollar “private” for profit business. I am willing to use the term private, as the athletic
department will inform you, it does not consume nor use a single state dollar in its
production of intercollegiate athletes. Thus it is not a publicly funded department; rather
it is privately funded through a combination of generated revenue and donations.
In the process of attempting to explain the powers that forced the birth of the modern
athletic department we will first need to examine the national forces which were shaping
intercollegiate athletics at the time. In our study of history we constantly resonated on
the theme of the self-made man which is typified as Rudolph puts it in his statement that,
“football-early football, in any case-glorified the individual; it put on display not the wonders of machines but robustness, ingenuity, and imagination of man.” This
stereotype of the ideal athlete as the perfect individual has been used as justification for
the continuance of the modern athletic department at any point in which monetary
matters have been brought forth(Daily, 22, 25, 26; Seattle P-I, 7).
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) oversees and regulates athletics at
all institutions of higher education. They have become the purse holders of the money
that streams into the system from television contracts and major athletic events such as
bowl games and championship games. Of course this was not always the case, regulation
does not occur without there being public interest, and interest does not occur without
their being money.
“The NCAA‟s father was football and its mother was higher education”, this union of
two opposite forces was created due to Presidential intervention into collegiate athletics
(http://www.ncaa.com, 32). The 1905 college football season produced 18 deaths and
149 serious injuries, which in turn lead to institutions involved to question the game‟s
place on their campuses. The lament of James Roscoe Day, chancellor of Syracuse
University, that “one human life is too big a price for all the games of the season”
typified the feelings of the populace during the era of the progressive movement. With a
strong movement afoot to do away with playing of football on college campuses the
President Theodore Roosevelt, a Harvard man, football fan and former student-athlete,
stepped in to mediate. On October 9, 1905, Roosevelt called representatives of Harvard,
Yale, and Princeton to the White House to discuss the game‟s future. Roosevelt was
clear: Reform the game or it will be outlawed, perhaps even by Executive Order of the
Henry M. MacCracken, the chancellor of New York University, called a meeting of
football-playing institutions of higher education in order to reform the game. Thirteen
institutions attended the first meeting on December 9, 1905 in New York City. At this
first meeting the schools present decide to reform the game and meet later that month.
On December 28, at the second meeting with some 62 institutions present saw the
suggestion for the creation of a formal association, the Intercollegiate Athletic
Association of the United States (IAAUS). This second meeting also saw the fledgling
IAAUS created a new football rules committee which oversaw an overhaul of the old
rules of play, thereby creating a safer more modern version of football. By March of
1906 the IAAUS had drawn up a formal constitution and bylaws.
The second article of the constitution put forth the purpose of the Association: “Its object
shall be the regulation and supervision of college athletics throughout the United States,
in order that the athletic activities… may be maintained on an ethical plane in keeping
with the dignity and high purpose of education.” Within the bylaws was a set of
regulations known as the home rule, “whereby each institution was responsible for
policing itself.” This idea of self policing would be the rule of law for the next 50 years
or more. The residue of this self policing, during the era from 1901-1952, will still be
evident within the areas of recruiting and athlete compensation throughout the 1960‟s and
1970‟s. This practice sets a dangerous precedent for a burgeoning arena of popular sport.
The article responsible for the self policing clause states, “The Colleges and Universities enrolled in this Association severally agree to take control of student athletic sports, as far as may be necessary, to maintain in them a high standard of personal honor, eligibility and fair play, and to remedy whatever abuses may exist.” Due to the home rule the University of Washington felt it could approach intercollegiate athletics through a hands-off tactic. What this meant for the UW was that the Associated Student Body of the University of Washington (ASUW) would create a club that used student fees and alumni donations directly to students to fund intercollegiate athletics.
During the years leading up to WWI the IAAUS kept growing as larger members of the higher education world joined its ranks. By 1910 boasting a national list of institutions it renamed itself the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). By 1919, there were 170 institutions in the NCAA, with the association overseeing some 11 sports.
This period of time from 1910 through 1948 saw a period of unparalleled cheating going on within collegiate football. Since the schools were to police themselves as they saw fit, many saw fit to do nothing in the management of collegiate athletics during this period. It was during this time that the University of Washington‟s Associated Students in Intercollegiate Athletics club came to the fore front in the management of intercollegiate athletics at the UW. This club was run by a series of individual faculty, student associations and committees during its lifetime (Henry Jackson School, Histories of UW
depts.). By 1955 the club was operating with revenue of $650,000 (Argus, 2). What was
called an Athletic Manager, the advisor, ran the club until having the position re-titled to Director of Athletics in the later years (GENCAT 73-031).