Skip to main content

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Faculty Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics


The Northwestern University Faculty Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics was formed in 1891 “to consider the entire question of athletics at Northwestern”, although its original concern was primarily with the problems engendered by the rise of football as a collegiate sport. Presidents of seven universities met for the first time in 1895, followed by the first meeting of faculty in 1896, eventually becoming known as the “Big Ten”. Committee members are appointed by the University President.

The committee initially adopted rules forbidding competition with professional teams, required players to meet clearly established academic standards, endorsed a list of eligible players and increased university administrative control over the scheduling of games.

In 1895 presidents of seven Midwestern universities, (Northwestern, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin) met for the first time to establish standards for intercollegiate sports, which became known as the Presidents' Rules. The conference also established permanent faculty organizations at each university to supervise intercollegiate sports. In the following year, 1896, the first meeting of faculty representatives was held. It was formally designated as the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, which became known as the Western Conference and more familiarly as the Big Ten. Indiana, Iowa and Ohio State later joined the original seven. The University of Chicago eventually withdrew from the conference and Michigan State took its place. The “Big Ten” athletic conference is the oldest continuous conference in existence in the United States and has always remained under faculty control.

While the Faculty Representatives retain the final authority in conference affairs they also work with the conference Athletic Directors in a Joint Group. In addition the Athletic Directors meet separately, as does the Council of Ten, comprised of the ten university presidents, who act in an advisory capacity, and also appoint the conference commissioner.

The local athletic committee thus became a permanent fixture at all the Big Ten universities, including Northwestern. The Northwestern Faculty Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics recommends policy regarding intercollegiate athletics directly to the university administration. The committee also makes recommendations concerning athletic staff appointments, grants-in-aid awards, varsity numerals, letters and other awards to athletes; approves athletic team schedules, meets with the athletic staff and discusses questions of policy which may be on the agenda at Big Ten conference meetings.

The members of the committee are appointed by the university President. They include three alumni members and ten faculty members including the Director of Athletics and Chairman of the Department of Physical Education as ex officio members. Members are appointed at the beginning of each academic year.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Faculty Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, Records of the

Identifier: 4/5/2
Abstract The records of the Faculty Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics include material which spans the dates 1906-1971. The bulk of the records are from the 1950s and 1960s, with only a few miscellaneous items previous to that. The records have been divided into three categories: Local Committee Records, Intercollegiate Conference (Big Ten) Athletic Association Records, and N.C.A.A. and Miscellaneous Records.
Dates: 1906-1981