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Athletic Department (University of Michigan) records: 1860-2017
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The University of Michigan Athletic Department manages the university's participation in intercollegiate athletic competition. The department is governed by the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics and headed by the Athletic Director. Since 1973 the department has managed women's intercollegiate athletics. Sub-units of the department include offices for each varsity sport, Sports Information, and various administrative and support offices.

The first organized athletic activity at the University of Michigan was sponsored by the "Pioneer Cricket Club" formed by students in 1860. In 1865, the university appropriated fifty dollars for the maintenance of a playing field, the first official recognition and support for student athletics. Prior to 1873 athletic competition was managed by informal student clubs that had no official standing with the university. Baseball, football, and boating clubs organized occasional competitions with the local high school or area community teams. In 1873 a Football Association was formed and a Baseball Association in 1876. The two merged in 1878 to form the first Athletic Association. This was a completely student controlled organization seeking to direct the activities of the university athletic teams with the aim of raising funds for construction of a gymnasium. In addition to modest gate receipts from games, the Athletic Association sponsored dances and other social events as fund-raisers. The Athletic Association dissolved in 1884 and the management of athletics reverted to the individual sports clubs, including a track club originally formed in 1874.

In 1890/91 the University of Michigan Athletic Association was formed. According to its constitution, any student could become a member by paying the annual fee of three dollars, making him a participant in the management of university athletics. The Association elected managers for each sport who were scheduled games an handled other administrative matters. In 1891 the Athletic Association hired Frank Crawford as the first football coach.

The Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics was formed in 1893 to assert a measure of faculty control over athletics. It assumed overall responsibility for athletic policy and financial management, but the student Athletic Association continued to play a role in athletics until 1920. The board originally consisted of nine members; five chosen from the faculty senate by President Angell and four undergraduates, at first selected by the Board of Directors of the Athletic Association but later chosen by the student body.

A desire to regularize competition with other Midwestern universities led the Athletic Association to join Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Northwestern in forming the Northwestern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1893. The league sponsored competition in baseball and track but folded after one year. The Western Intercollegiate Athletic Association was formed in the fall of 1894 and sponsored a track meet the following spring. In 1896 Dr. C.B.G. de Nancrede and Professor Albert Pattengill joined representatives of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois and Northwestern who met in Chicago to form the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, commonly referred to then as the "Western Conference" and now as the Big Ten. Indiana and Iowa joined the conference in 1899 and Ohio State in 1912. The University of Chicago left the conference in 1939/40 and Michigan State joined in 1950.

Charles Baird was appointed "Director of Outdoor Athletics" under the Board in Control in 1899. Baird had been an officer of the Athletic Association as an undergraduate and later held the title of "Graduate Director of Athletics." Baird is considered to be the first Athletic Director. He was responsible for hiring Fielding Yost as football coach in 1901. Baird served as Director of Outdoor Athletics until 1908. He was succeeded by Philip Bartelme, who had attended the university in 1855-96 and 1897-98. He held the post through 1920.

In 1907 Michigan withdrew from the Western Conference over a dispute on reform measures originally proposed by President Angell. Michigan remained outside the conference until 1918. During this period the Board in Control was reorganized several times as different factions of the faculty, student body, administration, and alumni sought influence on the question of rejoining the conference.

Fielding Yost was appointed Director of Intercollegiate Athletics in 1921. At the same time Dr. John Sundwall was named chairman of the Department of Physical Education, Athletics and School Health leading to conflict with Yost over control of athletic administration. In 1926 acting university president Alfred Lloyd appointed Edmund Day, dean of the Business School, to head a Senate committee to investigate the athletic situation on campus. The resulting "Day Report" was a far ranging document that led to significant changes in athletic administration, programs and facilities. Considered the foundation document of the modern athletic department, the "Day Report" adopted much of Yost's program of "Athletics For All" and resulted in the construction of Michigan Stadium, the Intramural Sports Building, the University Golf Course, and facilities for women's athletics at Palmer Field.

In 1925 Yost hired Philip C. Pack as the department's first "publicity agent" laying the groundwork for the modern Sports Information Office. Pack was succeeded by Frank DeLano in 1940 and Les Etter in 1943. Yost retired as Athletic Director in 1941 and was succeeded by football coach Herbert. O. "Fritz" Crisler, who also assumed responsibility for the intramural and physical education programs. Crisler retired as football coach following the 1947 season, but continued as Athletic Director until 1968. Crisler oversaw a further expansion of the athletic department's physical plant, including two expansions of Michigan Stadium, a varsity pool, a women's swimming pool, the Athletic Office Building (now Weidenbach Hall), modern baseball stands, and the University Events Building - later named Crisler Arena.

Crisler was succeeded by track coach Don Canham who initiated aggressive marketing and promotional campaigns that made Michigan a pioneer in the development of merchandising and licensing agreements as sources of revenue. Canham's tenure saw the inauguration of varsity competition for women. In 1972 Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendment Act prohibiting sexual discrimination in education programs which received federal funding. The Department of Health Education and Welfare and the courts interpreted this to mean schools must provide equal athletic opportunities for men and women students. In response to Title IX and complaints from women students, university president Robben Fleming created a Committee to Study Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, headed by Eunice Burns, an Ann Arbor political and social activist and later assistant dean in the School of Education. On the basis of the "Burns Committee" report, varsity level competition in seven sports was instituted in 1973/74. Marie Hartwig was appointed Associate Director of Women's Intercollegiate Athletics, reporting to the Athletic Director. Hartwig retired in 1976 and was succeeded by Virginia Hunt who served less than one year. Phyllis Ocker assumed the post in 1977. Ocker was succeeded by Peggy Bradley-Doppes in 1991. In the course of several reorganizations of the department in the 1990s aimed at fully integrating administration of the men's and women's programs the separate position of Director of Women's Intercollegiate Athletics was eliminated.

From 1973 to 1981 women's sports at Michigan operated under the rules of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), a national association that tried to provide women's athletics an alternative to the National Collegiate Athletic Association which governed men's sports. Michigan's women's teams competed in two associations affiliated with the AIAW; the Midwest Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and the State of Michigan Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. In 1981 women's sports left the governing structure of the AIAW to join the NCAA and began competing in the Big Ten conference.

Canham retired in 1989 and was succeeded by football coach Glen E. "Bo" Schembechler, 1989-1990; Jack Weidenbach, 1990-1994; and Joe Roberson, 1994-1997. Thomas Goss was named athletic director in Sept. 1997 and was succeeded by Bill Martin in 2000.

Michigan now offers varsity competition in 26 sports. The recent media guides contain capsule histories for each sport. The first years of varsity level intercollegiate for UM sports are :

  1. Men's Sports:
    • Baseball - 1866
    • Basketball - 1909, 1917 (basketball was dropped after initial the season then resumed when Michigan rejoined the Western Conference)
    • Cross Country - 1920-1932, 1972 (cross country was dropped in 1932 and reinstated as a varsity sport in 1972)
    • Fencing - 1928-1932 (fencing was dropped as varsity sport in 1932)
    • Football - 1879
    • Golf - 1922
    • Gymnastics - 1926
    • Hockey - 1923
    • Lacrosse - 2012
    • Soccer - 2000
    • Swimming - 1922
    • Tennis - 1892
    • Track - 1893
    • Wrestling - 1922
  2. Women's Sports
    • Basketball - 1973/74
    • Cross Country 1978/79
    • Crew - 1996
    • Field Hockey - 1974
    • Golf - 1979
    • Gymnastics - 1975/76
    • Rowing - 1996
    • Soccer - 1994
    • Softball - 1979
    • Swimming/Diving - 1973/74
    • Synchronized Swimming - 1973/74-1982 (dropped as varsity sport in 1982)
    • Tennis - 1974
    • Track - 1974
    • Volleyball - 1973/74
    • Water Polo - 2000/01

The Athletic Department now manages an extensive complex of indoor and outdoor facilities. The first athletic competitions and practices were held on central campus, approximately where the Chemistry building now stands, and at the Fair Grounds (now Burns Park). In 1890 the Board of Regents appropriated $3000 for the purchase of land on South State Street for use as a playing field for football, baseball, and track. Regents Field opened in 1893 with a single covered bleacher accommodating 400. The original bleachers, which stood approximately where Schembechler Hall is today, burned in 1895 and were replaced with covered bleachers seating 800. Later additions of permanent bleachers and temporary stands increased capacity to 17,000. Regents Field was the site of UM football games through the 1906 season.

In 1902 Dexter Ferry donated a tract of land north of Regents Field for development of new athletic facilities. The entire athletic complex was renamed Ferry Field. Construction of a new football field, on the site of the current running track, was completed in 1906. The new Ferry Field seated 18,000 fans. Replacement of the south stands with concrete bleachers in 1914 increased capacity to 25,000. Construction of permanent wooden bleachers in the end zones expanded seating to 41,000.

A "club house" was built at the east end of Ferry Field in 1912, providing a locker room for the football team and offices for the coaches. (It now houses the ticket office, Sports Information, and administrative offices.)

Michigan Stadium was completed in 1927 with permanent seating of 72,000 and temporary wooden bleachers for a total capacity of 84,400. In 1949 the wooden bleachers were replaced with permanent steel bleachers, raising capacity to 97,239. Additional bleachers were added in 1956 increasing seating to 101,000. Artificial Tartan Turf was installed in 1969 and replaced with All Pro artificial turf in 1983. A grass playing surface was reinstalled in 1991. The replacement of the remaining original redwood seats with metal and reconfiguring of seat numbers in 1992 added 800 seats bringing the official capacity to 102,501. The addition of five rows of seats to the top of the stadium in 1998 raised capacity to 107,501

Football facilities also include Oosterbaan Field House, an indoor practice area and Schembechler Hall, with locker room, weight training, and physical therapy facilities, as well as coaches' and administrative offices. Schembechler Hall also houses the Margaret Dow Towsley Museum featuring historical displays and sports memorabilia.

Waterman Gymnasium (now the site of the Chemistry Building) was completed in 1894. In addition to serving as the site for all physical education courses and intramural sports, Waterman was home for the varsity basketball and indoor track team until the opening of Yost Arena in 1922. Wrestling and gymnastics teams also used Waterman gym.

Yost Field House, completed in 1923, was the nation's first multi-purpose field house. It was designed for indoor track and basketball, but also served as a practice and training facility for baseball, football and other sports. Yost was home for the UM basketball team until 1967. In 1973 Yost Field House was converted for use by the hockey team and renamed Yost Arena. The hockey team had previously played at the Coliseum Building (located at the corner of South Fifth Avenue and Hoover St.) which the university had purchased in 1925. The Sports Coliseum now houses practice and training facilities for gymnastics.

Baseball had originally been played at the old Regents Field. The current university baseball field was laid out in 1923. The grandstands were built in 1948 and remodeled in 1973. Wooden bleachers were added in 1983. The field was named Ray Fisher Stadium in 1967 in honor of Ray Fisher, who coached Michigan baseball teams from 1921-1958.

The first facility for the swimming team was the pool in the Michigan Union which opened in 1921. In 1928 swimming events moved to the pool in the new Intramural Sports Building. In 1957 a new pool was constructed on the east end of the I-M Building. The largest collegiate pool in the nation at the time, it was named for Matt Mann, UM swimming coach from 1924-1954. The Don Canham Natatorium opened in 1989.

The wrestling team originally trained in Waterman Gymnasium then moved to facilities in the Intramural Sports Building. It now competes in Cliff Keen Arena on the site of the former Matt Mann Pool. Keen Arena also hosts women's and men's gymnastics and women's volleyball.

In recent years facilities have been added for women's softball, field hockey and soccer; all located at the southern end of Ferry Field. The Tisch Tennis Complex, located on South State St. just beyond the UM Golf Course, opened in 1997.

For additional information about current Athletic department facilities consult the Athletic Department home page at: http://www.umich.edu/~mgoblue/CampusInfo/map.html