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Wednesday Night Dawg Bites

These are wild times for your humble correspondent, both here at Dawg Sports and elsewhere in life, so I beg your pardon for delivering this to you in the form of a rundown, but, as you will see, it has been quite busy in these parts of late and it's all I can do to keep up; viz.:

In his defense, CW told me I'd be hopelessly out of touch until I got a D.V.R.!

In 1935 the members of the [recently formed] Southeastern Conference (SEC) voted to allow scholarships for their athletes. . . .

While subsidies and work programs flourished in the East and Midwest, southern athletic departments had opted for a different approach. In 1929 the Washington Post commented that "the South today seems inclined to adopt a 'ho, hum,' and 'well, what of it?'" attitude toward subsidizing athletes. Schools in the South had become less inclined to give athletes jobs or provide partial support through loans and under-the-table payments.

In the Big Ten, still the citadel of the amateur supporters, other schools threatened to follow the Southeastern Conference's example. Rumors circulated in 1936 that Wisconsin was prepared to offer athletic scholarships, but it did not happen. In truth the Big Ten schools had no need to give athletic scholarships and might actually have found them expensive and unnecessary, since Big Ten players already had access to easy jobs. One All-America lineman for Northwestern later recounted that he had worked as a night watchman at Northwestern's Dyche Stadium, a job that he described as more boring than taxing. He related that he had received payments to help him with his expenses, though he never knew who provided this assistance. These jobs and payments were not precisely athletic scholarships because they did not constitute a "full ride." While many athletes at big-time schools got a combination of aid in the form of school jobs, summer employment from alumni, tuition "loans," and some money under the table, athletic officials still believed that they stayed within their definition of amateur athletics. To round out this aid, fraternities often provided not only jobs but also free room and board for big-time athletes.

Obviously, subsidies did not stop with campus jobs. At Ohio State the athletic department managed to get jobs for the leading athletes, such as the sprinter Jesse Owens, at the nearby state capitol; Owens ran an elevator, and others served as pages for the legislators. Governor Martin Davey of Ohio in a press conference tried to deflect questions about the employment by joking about how athletes fit into state hiring practices. In a shaky conclusion the conference commissioner, John Griffith, like later masters of "spin," insisted that the players received the same rate of pay and had the same chance for employment as nonathletes.

Jim Delany claims that "winning our way requires some discipline and restraint with the recruitment process," with "discipline and restraint" being defined as signing 20 players per Big Ten school instead of 27 players per S.E.C. school. It behooves us to remember that, when the S.E.C. invented the athletic scholarship as an alternative to under-the-table payments and bogus no-show summer jobs, Delany's predecessor thought 20 athletic scholarships per Big Ten school were 20 athletic scholarships too many.

Oh, if only the Big Ten's heritage of healthy relationships between disciplined coaches and amateur athletes had not been sullied by the shameful introduction of scholarships!

For instance, if a reader tells me he wants to see a picture of Mary-Louise Parker, well, then I'll do my best to give him one! (If you like a little exposed midriff, too, I can accommodate that, as well.)

  • There are other noteworthy developments forthcoming here at Dawg Sports, above and beyond the scheduled site upgrades, so please stay tuned for a couple of changes that I believe will be to your liking. Unfortunately, these positive events remain on the horizon and have not yet been finalized, so I will have to remain vague for the moment, but trust me when I tell you there's some good stuff coming your way . . . including, but not limited to, the soon-to-be-announced plans for Bloggerpalooza '07, assuming, of course, that Doug Gillett and I can get organized enough to keep this year's festivities from becoming quite the fiasco that last year's were. G-Day is April 7, folks, so save the date, 'cause it'll be here before you know it.
  • There are events of interest upcoming this weekend, including the Diamond Dogs' three-game series with Purdue and the Gym Dogs' home meet against Auburn. (I hate Auburn.) My reports on these contests, like my reply to SMQ, may be delayed by intervening obligations, for which I apologize. While the official athletics site and the invaluable Dawg Bone are sure to keep you informed in the interim, I would encourage you to keep checking back here at Dawg Sports, where much is going on and almost all of it is good.
That's all I have for the moment. I'll be back to point out an anniversary or two of note tomorrow and your patience is appreciated during this busy but exciting time.

Go 'Dawgs!