Education: Case History

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Case History Shocked and shaken by the resignation of President John Edwin Pomfret (TIME, Sept. 24), the faculty of William and Mary last week issued its own report on the college's bubbling athletic scandal. The statement was a bitter case history of a college caught in the snare of a big-time athletic program. Said the faculty:

"Steadily and inevitably, the intercollegiate athletic program has usurped a dominating position in the college ... It has become a commercial enterprise demanding winning teams at any cost, even the cost of dishonest academic practice. It has demanded that admission requirements be lowered, and sometimes dispensed with, so that promising athletes can be given the respectability of college enrollment. Limited scholarship funds which should aid young men and women of intellectual promise . . . must go to athletes whose sole recommendation for such aid is their athletic prowess.

"Once on the college rolls, the athletes must somehow be kept there. Their schedules must be arranged without reference to the normal procedure leading to graduation, but rather to enable them to meet the minimum requirements . . . Courses most vital to the attainment of the educational ideal of the college are avoided in the search for the easy course . . . The regimen of football players makes them unable to enter a program of premedical study. There is pressure for special consideration for athletes on the score of heavy athletic duty. The tragic consequence is illustrated by the graduation records of the past nine years: football players as a group have been only a little more than half as successful as the rest of the student body in completing the requirements for the degree. They have been exploited on the gridiron under the pretense of being educated.

"We have seen this athletic program vitiate the most elementary standards of honesty and right conduct . . . ravage the morale of our student body." The faculty admitted "our share of responsibility . . . for having failed hitherto to halt the insidious growth of these evils." But henceforth, it announced, it intended to take over full control of the entire athletic program—"a beneficial but distinctly subordinate activity of the college."