The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  1959

THE BOARD IN CONTROL OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS

BEFORE 1873 the administration of athletic activities at the University of Michigan rested in groups with no official standing. These were the athletic clubs, which included the baseball, boating, and football organizations. In 1873 a Football Association was formed and in 1876 a Baseball Association, which merged in 1878 to form the first Athletic Association. This was entirely a student-controlled organization, seeking to direct the activities of the University athletic teams with the aim of raising funds for a gymnasium. In 1884 it "fell victim of the football and baseball teams which it sought to control." Athletic administration then reverted to the clubs which had existed before 1873.

In 1890-91, however, an attempt at athletic organization occurred, when the "University of Michigan Athletic Association" was formed, which proved durable. According to its constitution, any student could become a member by the payment of an annual fee of three dollars, making him a participant in the management of athletics. This organization was administered directly by its Board of Directors, which had practical control of the athletic policy of the University. The Board was composed of five officers and nine directors from various departments, elected by the student members in an annual election. An Advisory Board, composed of three nonresident alumni and four resident professors was also created, but as their duties were merely advisory and members were elected by the students, their influence was slight. The earliest official mention of a method for the control of intercollegiate athletics at Michigan appears to have been a reference in the Regents' Proceedings for May, 1892, to this Advisory Board: "Resolved, That the directors of the University Athletic Association shall have control of the Athletic Field for the remainder of the College year under the general direction of the Advisory Board; Provided, That they keep the grounds in good repair and … properly sprinkled during the summer season, it being understood also that the Association shall be entitled to the gate receipts" (R.P., 1891-96, p. 31). Apparently, the Athletic Association carried on the actual operation of the athletic program.

An untoward incident in 1893, however, led to the introduction of direct faculty control. In that year two members of one of the University teams were found to be subfreshmen. As a result a Board for the regulation of athletic sports was created by the University Senate, and "in its creation the students' Athletic Association concurred." This Board was to "have full control of all questions pertaining to athletics, subject to such regulations as the Senate may hereafter prescribe," the eligibility of players proposed for any University team, the arrangement of intercollegiate games, the granting of leaves of absence, the investigation of charges of misconduct on the part of the players, and was to approve the hiring of all coaches and trainers. Its policy was "to foster the spirit of honor and gentlemanliness in athletics, to suppress evil tendencies, and to see to it that play should not encroach too much on the claims of work" ("Minutes of the University Senate," Nov., 1893).

This first board was composed of nine members, five chosen from the University Senate by President Angell and four Page  1960undergraduates, originally selected by the Board of Directors of the Athletic Association but later by the student body. The older Advisory Board of the Athletic Association remained. With the organization of the Board in Control, however, the Athletic Association as a policy-making body lapsed.

In January, 1894, the Athletic Association turned over to the Regents its funds, facilities, and assets, consisting of cash and bonds totaling $6,095 (R.P., 1891-96, pp. 243-45).

In 1896 the Board in Control participated in the formation of the Intercollegiate (Western) Conference, now known as the "Big Ten." By 1895 the need of a definite athletic organization for midwestern colleges had been realized, and, at the instance of President Smart of Purdue, the presidents of seven institutions met at Chicago on January 11, 1895, to discuss athletic problems and means of control of intercollegiate athletics. An organization for such regulations and control was set up, consisting of appointed faculty representatives, one from each institution, and a brief set of general rules was drawn up. The following winter in February, 1896, the appointed faculty representatives met in Chicago. At this time the same institutions were represented as at the presidents' meeting in 1895, except that Michigan took the place of Lake Forest. Michigan, although President Angell had been expressly invited by President Smart to participate, had not been represented at the 1895 conference.

The seven original university members of the 1896 conference were Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Chicago, and Michigan, with Dr. C. B. G. de Nancrède and Professor Albert H. Pattengill representing Michigan's Board of Control. Professor Pattengill became a tower of strength in the deliberations of this body and was active in the formulation of its policies up to his death in 1906. To him Michigan owes not only the basis of her effective organization of its athletics but the original impetus toward securing Ferry Field and its equipment. In December 1899, Indiana University and the University of Iowa were admitted to the Western Conference, and in April, 1912, Ohio State.

The following resolution was adopted by the Regents on June 18, 1901: "That all moneys collected for athletic purposes from any source shall be cared for and deposited as the University Board in Control of Athletics shall direct; and that no money shall be disbursed from this fund, except on the approval of the chairman of the Board of Control and the Director of Outdoor Athletics" (R.P., 1896-1901, p. 651).

During the next four years the intercollegiate athletics program apparently became the subject of much public attention and criticism. In President Angell's report to the Regents in September, 1905, approximately two pages are devoted to problems in this field. His remarks make interesting reading, for certain of the problems were very similar to those existing in the 1950's. For example, he said: "One of the most difficult abuses to prevent is the offering of inducements to promising athletes in preparatory schools to come to this or that college" (R.P., 1901-6, p. 588). A year later, in his report filed at the October, 1906, meeting, he expressed hope that through Conference legislation college athletics could be rid of abuses and objectionable practices. His discussions concluded with this interesting prediction: "Certain it is that football will continue to be played, and will attract many spectators and will probably excite more interest among students than any other athletic game" (P.R., 1905-6, p. 14).

The history and activities of the Michigan Board of Control for more than a decade after the close of the football season of 1905 were largely influenced by Page  [unnumbered]

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The University of Michigan Stadium
Page  [unnumbered]Page  1961events which led to Michigan's withdrawal from membership in the Conference and, at the close of the period, her resumption of membership therein. The 1905 football season brought to a peak the growth of interest in intercollegiate athletics in general and in football in particular. Football had become not only rough, but dangerous in character, and the enthusiasm and rivalry between competing institutions had developed to such a point that it was not uncommonly maintained that football should be abolished. At President Angell's suggestion representatives of the Conference institutions met in Chicago in January, 1906. In his report of 1906, in summing up what had been accomplished, he said:

Indisputably then something remains to be done to rid college athletics of certain objectionable practices …

In harmony with these ideas the nine Western Universities whose students have been accustomed to meet in intercollegiate athletics, especially in football, sent delegates from their faculties to two conferences during the year to consider what new rules, if any, they should agree on for the better regulation of football contests … they were nearly all of one mind in condemnation of certain practices which had grown up … that there were too many great games in each season, that too much time and too much money were devoted to the games, that Freshmen ought not to be allowed on the University teams, that the employment of coaches brought in from outside the Institution, and especially at extravagant salaries should be dispensed with, that the price of admission to the games should be so reduced that all of the students could afford to attend, and that the offering of pecuniary inducements to school boys or to others to come to college in order to play on the team should be condemned and forbidden.


(R.P., 1906-10, p. 12.)

The so-called "Angell conferences," held on January 19 and March 9, 1906, evolved a set of restrictions which were officially adopted at the meeting of the regular Conference in March, 1906. The new rules and regulations, however, were, felt to be too stringent. The first was the well-known "freshman rule," requiring one year of residence as a prerequisite for eligibility. Second, intercollegiate competition was limited to three years, and graduate students were not eligible to play. Third, the training table and training quarters were prohibited. Fourth, freshman teams were not to be permitted to play in outside games, and the number of football games was limited to five. Under the three-year rule outstanding athletes already registered would have been denied their fourth year of competition, and the retroactive feature of the three-year rule was therefore bitterly opposed at Michigan. The abolition of the training table was also disliked. Criticism of the new rules and of the Conference was vigorous among Michigan students and alumni. At the meeting of November 13, 1906, Michigan's representative was instructed to urge the Conference to change the three-year rule so that it would not be retroactive.

On March 7, 1907, the Board in Control discussed the question of withdrawal from the Conference, the faculty arguing in favor of it and the students against it. The Board requested the Conference to modify the objectionable rules, but without success. In April, 1907, Mr. Stagg, representing the University of Chicago, replied: "Our Board will sanction games provided Michigan will observe Conference rules in all branches of athletics." The question of the training table was considered on October 11, 1907, the Board in Control voting to abide by the rules of the Conference against training tables and training quarters for athletes. Except for a brief meeting on October 24, the meeting of October 11 seems to have been the last meeting of the Board as then constituted. At that time the membership consisted of Professors Lane, Page  1962Sadler, McMurrich, Bates, and Lloyd, representing the faculty, and Messrs. Downey, Hill, Sample, and Coe, representing the students.

The Board of Regents on motion of Regent Fletcher adopted the following resolution on November 15, 1907:

Resolved, That the Board of Regents create a Board of Control of Athletics, the scope and duties of said Board to be afterwards defined;

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Board of Regents that the Board in Control of Athletics shall be responsible to the teaching force of the University, and that Faculty control be preserved by means of a majority representation of Faculty members on the said Board in Control of Athletics;

Resolved, That this Board of Control be composed of eight members as follows: … the professor of Physical Training and director of Waterman Gymnasium …; four Faculty members, one each from the following Faculties — literary, law, engineering, and medical, homeopathic, dental, pharmacy, jointly, be appointed by their representative Deans in conjunction with the President; that one graduate member be appointed by the directors of the Alumni Association, and two undergraduate members be appointed by the Student Athletic Board, and that the Board so constituted be confirmed by the Board of Regents;

Resolved, That this Board be organized by December first next, and each year thereafter.


(R.P., 1906-10, p. 206.)

The new Board convened for the first time in December, 1907, and the following were qualified as regular members: Professors A. H. Lloyd, H. M. Bates, C. B. G. de Nancrède, George W. Patterson, and Keene Fitzpatrick, Director of the Gymnasium, Henry Bodman for the alumni, and Dudley Kennedy and Paul Magoffin representing the students. Patterson was elected chairman, Bates, secretary, and Lloyd, treasurer. In the same month the report of the Deans in nominating members of the Board in Control of Athletics was submitted for approval to the Regents, and the following code of rules was adopted:

Board in Control of Athletics

1. The Board in Control of Athletics, as constituted by the Board of Regents at their November meeting, 1907, shall have full control of all questions pertaining to athletics except as hereinafter specified. It shall make, adopt and enforce the necessary rules governing all questions pertaining to the eligibility of players, intercollegiate relations and membership in associations of the universities and colleges organized for the regulation of athletics.

2. The officers of the Board in Control shall be a Chairman, to be elected by the Board in Control, and a Secretary and a Treasurer, to be elected by the Board.

The Board may elect the Graduate Director of Athletics as Secretary. The Chairman shall have a vote on all questions, and so shall the Secretary, if he be a regular member of the Board.

3. The following are the rules of the Board in Control of Athletics, but it is understood that the said Board in Control has full authority to make other and further rules in regard to the subject of athletics as it may find it necessary so to do, subject to the approval, however, of the Board of Regents. And it is further understood that it shall be the purpose of said Board in its action, and in any rules that it may adopt, to foster reasonable participation by the student body generally in physical exercise.

(a) All Schedules of games must be approved by the Board in Control before they shall become operative.

(b) No team representing the University shall play with any other team or organization without the consent of the Board in Control.

(c) The hiring of all coaches and trainers must be approved by the Board in Control.

(d) No person who is conditioned, not passed, or on probation shall be allowed to play on athletic teams representing the University.

(e) Ratification of the list of players on any Page  1963athletic team representing the University, and permission for any athletic team to leave town, must be obtained from the Board in Control.

(f) Before any person can play on any athletic team representing the University, he must sign a certificate of eligibility, counter-signed by the chairman of the committee of the Board of Eligibility of Players, the particular form to be prescribed by the Board in Control.

(g) It shall be the duty of the manager and the captain of any athletic team to report to the Board any violation of these rules.

4. In case of a tie vote in said Board in Control on any question, such question shall be referred to the President of the University and the Deans of the several departments sitting together, and their decision in the matter shall be final.

5. The Board in Control shall have the power to ask the advice of the University Senate on any matter pertaining to athletics, and shall at all times receive and consider recommendations from the Senate and petitions from the student body.

6. The Board in Control shall make a full report in writing of its work to the Board of Regents and to the University Senate at the end of each academic year, and whenever called for by either body.


(R.P., 1906-10, pp. 215-16.)

It was voted that Michigan's delegates to the next Conference meeting should be instructed to work for the passage of rules which would secure a seven-game schedule in football, authorize a training table, repeal the retroactive features of the three-year rule, and permit interdepartment graduates "to play three years." At the Conference meeting of January 13, 1908, the chairman reported that none of the changes in the rules urged by Michigan had been made. Therefore, in 1908, the Board in Control voted to withdraw from the Conference, those voting in the affirmative being Patterson, Fitzpatrick, de Nancrède, Kennedy, and Magoffin. Voting in opposition were Bates, Bodman, and Lloyd. It was also voted that Michigan should retain for the control of her athletics all of the Conference rules except those against which she had made formal protest, these being, specifically, the retroactive feature of the three-year rule, the limitation of football games to five instead of seven, and the rule against the training table. With the exception of two football games with Minnesota in 1909 and 1910, Michigan had no further contact with the Conference until the close of the year, 1917.

The two Minnesota games led to the adoption by the Conference of the so-called Non-Intercourse Rule by which member institutions were forbidden to play any institution that had once been a member of the Conference and had ceased to be such a member. It is probable that the desire to preserve the Conference had as much to do with the approval of the measure as did the desire to isolate Michigan. The adoption of the rule was prompted, no doubt, in part at least, by a desire to prevent further withdrawals, but this action quite naturally increased the resentment felt by those Michigan supporters who had approved her withdrawal from membership. Whether or not Michigan should remain outside the Conference was a subject of frequent discussion during the years following 1908. Generally speaking, the faculty was in favor of a resumption of membership, but the dominant opinion among students and alumni, at least on the part of those in the general neighborhood of Ann Arbor, was distinctly to the contrary.

A change was made in the constitution of the Board in Control in November, 1910. It was provided that it should be composed of the director of Outdoor Athletics, who was to be secretary and keep a full record of all proceedings; three alumni to be selected by the Regents; three students to be selected by Page  1964the Athletic Association; and four faculty members to be selected as follows: one by the dean of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, one by the dean of the Department of Engineering, one by the dean of the Department of Law, and one by the deans of the Department of Medicine and Surgery, the Homeopathic Medical College, the College of Dental Surgery, and the School of Pharmacy.

The Regents confirmed the nomination of Professor Ralph W. Aigler as the representative of the Law Department on the Board in Control of Athletics in May, 1913. It is unlikely that anyone suspected at the time what an important event this was to prove in the athletic history of Michigan. Professor Aigler continued as a member until May 31, 1955, a period of forty-two years of service.

In 1912-13 the agitation on the campus became acute, and for the first time since the withdrawal, the student members of the Board in Control of Athletics, elected by the student body, were in favor of resumption of Conference membership. Sentiment among the four faculty members was evenly divided. Two of the three alumni members, as well as the director, were strongly opposed to the proposed return to the Conference. In the fall of 1913, an effort to effect an organization favorable to return failed.

Two years later, at the May, 1915, meeting, the Regents amended the legislation creating the Board in Control of Athletics so that the four faculty members were elected by the University Senate rather than appointed, as had hitherto been the case, by the deans. This seemingly unimportant amendment had far-reaching consequences. In the first election by the Senate under this amended provision, only one of the then four faculty members of the Board in Control was continued in his position, and the four members elected by the Senate were all known to be favorable to resumption of membership in the Conference. At the next meeting of the Board in Control thereafter the one faculty member who had been continued by the action of the Senate was elected chairman. With four faculty members and three student members thus favorable to resumption of membership in the Conference, the next step was to secure action by the Board of Regents whereby the Conference might be satisfied that Michigan had the requisite faculty control of athletics.

In 1916 the Board in Control directed the chairman to confer personally with faculty representatives of the nine Conference members in order to discover what terms the Conference would require. As a result it was reported that the Conference would be satisfied if all actions of the Board in Control were reported to the Senate Council of the University, subject to veto by that body. Early in 1917, the Board of Regents adopted the recommendation of the Board in Control of Athletics requiring such report to the Senate Council and giving that body veto power. After the Regents had taken this action, the Conference in June, 1917, invited the University of Michigan to resume membership therein. This invitation was accordingly accepted by the Board, the resumption of membership to become effective as of November 20, 1917, before a scheduled game with Northwestern.

The most important step in athletic control and management at Michigan was taken in 1926 as the result of an exhaustive and outstanding report on athletics prepared by a Senate committee (appointed by Acting President Lloyd) of which Dean Edmund E. Day, later president of Cornell University, was the chairman. That report, which was largely the work of Dean Day, has Page  1965often been referred to as the most significant document ever prepared in the field of athletics. It received overwhelming approval by the Senate and was passed on to the Board of Regents. At the Regents' meeting of April, 1926, an extended reference was made to this report. The recommendations of the Day Committee, as approved by the Senate, for a change in the composition of the Athletic Board, were approved, the reason for the approval being stated as follows: "Because of the development of physical education as a part of University work and because of the growing recognition that athletics as a whole is becoming more and more an integral part of college life, it is undoubtedly well to provide for more faculty representation and interest in the new board we are hereby creating."

The new board consisted of two students, three alumni, and nine faculty representatives. Of the last-mentioned nine, the president of the University and the director of Intercollegiate Athletics were to be permanent members, "the other seven to be appointed by the President." It will, of course, be noted that a significant change was made at that time in the method of selecting the faculty members of the Board. Not only was the number increased so as to constitute a distinct majority of the Board's membership, but it was declared, following the recommendation of the Day Committee, as approved by the Senate, that the faculty members, except for two, were to be appointed by the president. The reason for this change from election by the Senate-at-large to appointment by the president was the conviction on the part of the Day Committee and the Senate that better faculty representation would be had by the process of appointment rather than by election. In the discussions of the Day Committee it had been pointed out that on a general election by a large body it was too likely that selections would be made on the basis of mere popularity and prominence rather than on equipment for the task.

At this time the Regents declared the powers and functions of the Board in Control of Athletics to be as follows:

The Board in Control of Athletics, subject to the provisions hereof, shall have full control of all questions pertaining to athletics. It shall make, adopt, and enforce the necessary rules governing all questions pertaining to the eligibility of players, intercollegiate relations, and membership in associations of universities and colleges organized for the regulation of athletics. It shall be the purpose of the Board, in all its actions and in any rules that it may adopt, to foster reasonable participation by the student body in general in the various forms of indoor and outdoor physical exercise.

Said Board in Control shall likewise for the present and until other plans have been perfected have general supervision of intramural sports, physical education, and allied matters, being expressly hereby charged with the duty of forthwith providing an adequate and proper plan for giving speedy effect to the general program outlined in the Senate Committee report on University athletics dated January 18, 1926.


(R.P., 1923-26, pp. 870-71.)

This statement of functions and powers was expanded by the Regents in a resolution adopted in January, 1927:

  • a. The Board in Control of Athletics is responsible for the administration of intercollegiate athletics, intramural sports, and recreational activities, and the required work in physical education for men and women.
  • b. The immediate concern of the Board in Control of Athletics is the development of a comprehensive program of physical training, — including staff, grounds, and equipment, whereby all students in the University and members of the Faculty will be given ample opportunity for daily exercise and physical development.
  • Page  1966c. The Board in Control of Athletics shall carefully consider with a view to gradually putting into effect the recommendations of the Day Committee relative to a two-, three-and four-year program of required physical education.
  • d. All matters involving the foregoing, including personnel, budget, and policies, are under the control of the Board in Control of Athletics, subject of course to the By-Laws of the Board of Regents.

(R.P., 1926-29, p. 126.)

It was in compliance with the recommendations of this committee that the Board in Control of Athletics instituted its program of athletics for all and carried out the elaborate building operations, financed by a bond issue, which resulted in the completion of the Stadium, the Sports Building, the Women's Athletic Building, and Palmer Field.

Several changes in legislation have been made since 1926. In January, 1932, the president of the University was omitted from membership on the Board in Control, and the number of appointive faculty members was increased from seven to eight. In February, 1934, the name of the board was changed from Board in Control of Athletics to Board in Control of Physical Education, it being considered that the latter name was more nearly indicative of its functions. The comprehensive revision of the bylaws in the early 1940's in organizing the "Department of Physical Education and Athletics" led to a change having to do with the chairmanship of the Board. At that time the name was changed to Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics. It had been the practice, certainly from 1910, for the Athletic Board to elect its own chairman from among the faculty representatives. In the revision of the bylaws, the Regents provided that the head of the Department of Physical Education, who was made director of Intercollegiate Athletics, was to be not only an ex officio member of the Board but also chairman (R.P., 1939-42, pp. 857-61).

At the Regents' meeting of November, 1951, the bylaws were modified to provide that seven members of the Senate among the nine constituting the faculty representation on the Board, should be appointed by the president from a panel of Senate members chosen by the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs.

In June, 1953, the Board in Control was enlarged when the bylaws were revised to provide that the dean of men should be a member of the Board, ex officio.

Thus, in 1956, the Board consisted of the following members:

  • 1) Nine members of the University Senate:
    • a. Seven to be appointed by the President from a panel of Senate members chosen by the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, subject to the approval of the Board of Regents, and
    • b. The Director of Physical Education and Athletics and the Dean of Men, to be members ex officio. The seven appointed members hold office in each case for four years, and no appointed member shall hold office more than two successive terms.
  • 2) The University representative in the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives ex officio, unless he is otherwise a member of the Board by appointment.
  • 3) Three alumni selected by the Board of Regents to hold office for three years in each case but not for more than two consecutive terms.
  • 4) Two students, one chosen each year from the junior class by the male members of the student body, each student member to hold office for two years.

Page  1967
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Angell, James B. MS correspondence. In James B. Angell Papers, Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Calendar, Univ. Mich., 1894-95.
Hinsdale, Burke A.History of the University of Michigan. Ed. by Isaac W. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1906.
The Michigan Alumnus, Vols. 1-60 (1894-1956).
The Michigan Alumnus Quarterly Review, Vol. 54 (1947-48).
MS, "Minutes of the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association," 1900-47.
MS, "Minutes of the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics." (title varies), Univ. Mich., 1900-1956.
MS, "Minutes of the University Senate," 1900-1940, Univ. Mich.
President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1900-1956.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1892-1956.