Paterno didn't see it coming, but Hutchins did

Surveying the events out of State College, Pa., in recent days, I was reminded of a comment from a wise man:

"A student can win 12 letters at a university without learning how to write one."

So said Robert Maynard Hutchins about the problems he saw in marrying big-time athletics to universities. In fact, as president of the University of Chicago, Hutchins pushed through a controversial decision to drop football at the school in 1939.

Just four years earlier, Jay Berwanger had won the Heisman Trophy playing for Chicago. Amos Alonzo Stagg was Chicago's coach for more than 30 years. And Chicago was a member of the Big Ten Conference at the time that Hutchins ended its intercollegiate football team, so this was no small decision.

Or, if you believe the true and only focus of a university is higher learning, maybe it was a small -- and obvious -- call.

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Comments

Amy Seetoo
Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:14pm
Thanks for the history lesson. I have always wondered what business American universities are in, making money, winning football games or educating young men and women. Apparently according to Mr. Bebow, the decision President Hutchins made was not heeded. I remember James Thurber's story about a football player at OSU, who was asked by a professor in class to name a means of transportation. Helpful classmates were eager to make "choo choo" sounds to help him out. It was up to a great writer to point out the problems in our higher education system.
HHS Alum
Mon, 11/28/2011 - 2:17am
WHAT is with Bridge Magazine's vendetta against football??? This is the fourth article of yours that I've read, and three of the four have mentioned football in a derogatory manner. Cmon, guys. This is petty. Get over whatever high school football (excuse me, you probably didn't make it that far - we'll say middle school football) failure you experienced, and start reporting on issues and events that matter. There's really no need to be so negative about any topic, sports related or not. Grow up, ya'll.