Today in NC State History: Getting control of college sports

October 5, 2014
By Bill Krueger

historyIconThere has been plenty of debate in recent years about whether college athletics have gotten out of control. Countless headlines about high-profile scandals involving student-athletes have fueled calls to make radical changes to how college athletics are governed.

But it seems that there’s nothing new about such concerns.

Because on this day in 1951, the Technician had a story across the top of the front page with the following headline: “Athletics ‘Out of Control.'”

The story related how the presidents of the schools in the Southern Conference had met recently in attempt to regain some control over intercollegiate athletics. The presidents, led by Gordon Gray, president of the University of North Carolina system, voted to ban post-season football games, prohibit off-season practices and ban transfer students from participating in intercollegiate sports at another school in the Southern Conference. They were scheduled to vote in December on whether to ban freshmen from participating in varsity sports.

NC State Chancellor J.W. Harrelson was not at the meeting, but was quoted as saying he was “in full sympathy with President Gray.” He also referred to a 1949 magazine article that said athletes at NC State are “just students,” and said that’s the way it should be at all schools.

h.a. fisher - cropped

H.A. Fisher

NC State was represented at the meeting by H.A. Fisher, head of the mathematics department and chairman of the university’s Athletic Council. He told the Technician that athletics had been too far removed from the faculty and student body and that he would prefer that varsity teams relied less on recruited athletes and more on students who just happened to be in school at NC State.

The article did not provide details about what had fueled the concerns and the votes for increased regulation. But an advertisement inside the same issue may offer some clues.

The ad was for a new movie, Saturday’s Hero, and featured a bare-chested John Derek as a football player under the headline, “This movie minces no words about big time college football!” The movie starred Derek and Donna Reed.

“The screen performs a public service with this story of one boy who beat the body-buying System — and of the girl who made him a man!” read the ad. “The lowdown on the ‘kept men’ of that Saturday Afternoon Racket, where bodies are bought and hearts are broken so a mob can cheer!”

Saturday's Hero - Cropped

 

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