Athletics.

Athletics. Until 1800 outdoor exercise for Princeton students usually took the form of walking, horseback riding, canoeing down the Millstone River, and hunting small game in the hills and fields nearby. The first quarter of the nineteenth century saw an increase in more violent forms of physical activity, including occasional duels and frequent struggles with ``townies'' when the cry of ``Nassau! Nassau!'' would bring half-clad students rushing from their beds to rescue their comrades and defend the college honor.

Although there were no Intercollegiate football contests until 1869, as early as 1844 the quadrangle between East and West College was the scene of many spirited football games. Frequently the entire student body would turn out, divide themselves into teams, and endeavor to kick the ball until it touched the wall of either East or West College. The fall of 1857 brought a more organized form of athletics with the formation of a cricket club and two baseball clubs. The following year saw the emergence of the Nassau Baseball Club, which played its first game away from Princeton two years later.

During the early days the teams had little system or organization; the best player was usually the leader. The first step toward a more formal mode of operation occurred when the players elected one of their members as captain, with sole charge and management of the games and players. The next step was the development of the Football and Baseball, and later the Track, Associations, whose student boards of directors ran into criticism after gradually usurping the authority of the captains and were reduced in 1876 to two-man undergraduate committees.

The alumni were admitted to a share of management in 1885 when a graduate advisory committee of three was established by the Baseball Association. This scheme was so well received that, before the year closed, the various student associations had agreed to give the graduate advisory committee general supervision over all athletics of the college -- the first step toward consolidation of athletic interests. In 1886 an executive committee composed of undergraduate representatives from all the associations was organized to take charge of the grounds and general athletic interests of the college.

The final steps toward consolidation came with the adoption of an alumni proposal that each association turn over all surplus monies at the year's end to a University Fund managed by a regularly elected officer eventually known as the general athletic treasurer. In 1890 the graduate and undergraduate committees joined in the formation of the Princeton University Athletic Association, a year later incorporated under the laws of New Jersey. The general athletic treasurer became the first full-time officer to have administrative responsibility for all athletic programs.

At the same time, the faculty appointed a committee on outdoor sports to investigate and approve the academic standing of the individual players and to see that games and hours of training did not interfere with study.

The amalgamation of the faculty and alumni committees into a Board of Athletic Control came in 1900. Under the chairmanship of Dean Howard McClenahan '94, with G. R. Murray '93 as general athletic treasurer/secretary, this board gave general supervision to the organization of sports in Princeton.

In 1923 Dr. Charles W. Kennedy '03 took over the chairmanship. Asa S. Bushnell '21 was appointed secretary of the board in 1928 and three years later became graduate manager of athletics. In 1932 Dr. Joseph E. Raycroft succeeded Dr. Kennedy as chairman; the same year brought the retirement of G. R. Murray after thirty-two years of service to Princeton's athletic interests.

The Board of Athletic Control was replaced by the University Council on Athletics in 1934, with Burnham N. Dell as chairman and Asa S. Bushnell secretary.

In 1937 the Athletic Association was formally dissolved and reconstituted as an integral part of the University. In 1939, Bushnell left Princeton to become the head of the Central Office for Eastern Intercollegiate Athletics and R. Kenneth Fairman '34 was appointed graduate manager of athletics, a designation changed to director of athletics in 1941. Howard Stepp was acting director during Fairman's military service in World War II.

The last major change in the administrative structure of athletics occurred in 1947 when a single Department of Physical Education and Athletics was established, bringing the physical education and intramural programs under one departmental purview with intercollegiate athletics. Major increases in Princeton's athletic plant took place during Fairman's leadership with the construction of the Caldwell Field House and the Jadwin Gymnasium as well as adjacent baseball, football, and lacrosse fields. Fairman also laid the groundwork for the successful entry of women into the Princeton athletic picture before he retired in 1972 after 35 years in charge of Princeton athletics.

Royce N. Flippin, Jr. '56 took over the directorship of physical education and athletics in 1973. Shortly after his arrival, the department added ``Recreation'' to its masthead in recognition of the growing interest in lifetime sports, recreational activities, and health fitness on the part of large numbers of the student body, faculty and staff.

Samuel C. Howell


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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