Patrick Plus: Academics used to win a few against athletics

  • Updated: March 29, 2014 - 11:43 PM

Ohio State was the 1961 Big Ten football champion with a 6-0 record. The Buckeyes received an invitation to play UCLA in the Rose Bowl. This had to be approved by the 53-member Faculty Club.

A debate within that group ensued, based on the feeling of faculty members that Woody Hayes’ football program had become too powerful.

One professor told Sports Illustrated: “We’re upset over the fact that the image of Ohio State is that the school is merely an appendage to the football team. When we go away for meetings, we’re kidded about this by people from other schools.’’

The Faculty Club voted in that secret meeting 28-25 to turn down the Rose Bowl invitation. There were two days of sometimes ugly protests on campus.

The Gophers had finished second in the Big Ten at 6-1. Ohio State’s decision gave the Rose Bowl invitation to Minnesota, and it was accepted.

On Jan. 1, 1962, the Gophers defeated UCLA 21-3 to avenge the loss in Pasadena to Washington a year earlier.

Earlier in 1961, Minneapolis Roosevelt had won Region 5 and was taking a 22-1 record into Minnesota’s all-important spring event, the one-class, eight-team basketball tournament. The Teddies were disqualified on the eve of the state tourney when it was discovered two deep reserves had played in a DeMolay (a Masonic youth group) tournament.

Such “independent competition’’ for varsity players was banned by Minnesota State High School League rules.

In 1966, the basketball Gophers finished second in the Big Ten at 11-3. They were 19-5 overall and finished No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll.

Only conference champions and at-large independents went to the 22-team NCAA tournament. The Gophers received an invitation to go to New York for the 14-team NIT, but the university faculty group that oversaw athletics voted against accepting the bid because the players would miss class time.

“It was a different world back then,’’ said the team’s star, Lou Hudson, back in 1994.

Five decades later, it’s fair to observe that athletics have won the battle at all levels over academics and institutional control, and in a knockout.

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