Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics

By Ronald A. Smith | Go to book overview

XI

The Rise of the
Professional Coach

THE PROBLEM OF INTER-INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL was made even more difficult and pressing by the rise of the professional coach. The premium placed upon winning by individual institutions was extremely high prior to the advent of professional coaches, but it intensified when an individual's coaching career was dependent principally upon turning out winners. "Players like to win," argued a former Yale all-American football player, Frank Butterworth, "but head coaches and especially paid coaches, had to win." 1 Each coach wanted to develop advantages which would give him and his team the winning edge. Uniform rules determined by inter-institutional action might take away the freedom of the pro coach to win using whatever method he devised to accomplish his task.

The introduction of the professional coach into college sport did as much as anything to accomplish the rationalization of intercollegiate athletics. The pro coach began with the Yale crew in 1864, and by the early 1900s the coach's organization for victory was rather highly developed. The pro coach so dominated the athletic program among leading colleges that he was, at times, paid more than the highest salaried professor, and he was becoming as visible as the college president on the college campus. The saga of the professional coach does much to explode the myth that there was ever a lengthy period when the amateur spirit pervaded college athletics. Intercollegiate athletics, almost from the first, had the professional

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