The Ivy Code: Case History of a 'Good Deed'


"I am sending you most of my file on the eligibility care of Terrance McGovern. I thought I was doing a pretty fine thing for two boys in getting them as start toward a good education, but I seem to have been misunderstood. . ." (signed) Robert G. Anderson.

The above statement came to the CRIMSON at our request Wednesday, from the Yale alumnus who two years ago helped two Chicago boys get an extra year of prep school education. With it, he included a detailed explanation of his conduct and motivation in helping the two boys, one of whom has now been declared ineligible for intercollegiate athletics as a freshman at Yale.

The CRIMSON prints his story as a part of the case of Terry McGovern. From his story on the one hand and the statements of members of the Ivy Committee on Eligibility on the other, one point becomes clear. The boy involved is innocent of any complicity in the affair which made him the so-called test case to prove the diligence of the Ivy League in prosecuting the statutes of the President's Code.

Notice of the case first came to indirect public attention when the Ivy League Colleges printed brief statements in their alumni magazines of one section of the year-and-a-half-old Ivy Code. This pointed out that any secondary school student who should have all or a part of his education subsidized by an outside group "not closely related to the family" shall be ineligible for intercollegiate athletics (see box). The notice was meant to inform Ivy alumni that a violation had been discovered and acted upon.

It concerned Terrance C. McGovern. He was admitted to Yale last spring after a post-graduate year at Cheshire Academy. Soon after he began at Yale this past fall, the Eligibility Committee met and after examining his case, decided there definitely had been violation of the code, and that it should be acted upon accordingly. McGovern was therefore declared ineligible for intercollegiate athletics.

Ivy League 'Witch Hunt'

The essential point to be considered here would seem to be whether or not a group of Yale alumni and other men gave money to the prep school specifically to finance McGovern's way through. Below will follow Anderson's story, a pertinent letter from Anderson to the Yale Director of Athletics concerning the ineligibility ruling; and finally, the statement by the chairman of the Eligibility Committee and other members of the group, explaining the stand they took and why.

Anderson entitles his report, "Witch Hunt in The Ivy League." He tells how in August 1952 a friend got him in touch with the father of "Terry McGovern. The father wanted no athletic scholarship at a midwestern institution for his son, but admitted great interest in Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

Risks for Alma Mater

"Knowing my strong interest in good boys for Yale (I had been a member of the Yale Scholarship Trust of Chicago for over ten years), the friend got me in touch with the McGoverns. I was sincerely impressed with the boy personally. . . However, my enthusiasm diminished when I found his grades made him a 20-1 shot as far as Yale was concerned."

McGovern suffered a football injury in his senior year; Anderson said he had also given up any idea of the boy being Yale material academically. However, the boy and a friend, Ralph Tite indicated they still wanted to apply for Yale, Tite, Anderson points out, was small, as far as football was concerned.

"The point I am trying to make is that if I was the proselyting victory-seeking alumnus abhorred by sacrosanct ivies, I would immediately have turned my back on both boys. A badly wrenched knee and a dubious size hardly made either of the boys any kind of risk for the football glory of the Alma Mater. . .

"Over the years I have placed several Yale rejects in prep schools not necessarily in the hope that they could make it the next year but with the sincere conviction that a year of specialized preparation would help them get into a good Eastern college or they would be better prepared for any other college. . . Therefore, it was most natural that I should contact Cheshire about Terry McGovern.

Always a Scholarship

"I felt that asking for a scholarship for two boys was an imposition. (Tite had decided he wanted to join McGovern at the school) I said I would be glad to raise money for the Cheshire Fund. This was in May, 1953 and I never saw or heard of the Ivy League Agreement until March, 1954, in the Yale Alumni Magazine. The fact remains that there was always a scholarship for Terry from Cheshire funds and my solicitation for the Cheshire scholarship fund was done strictly to help his friend, Ralph Tite. . .

"Fifteen close friends of mine gladly sent $100 apiece to the Cheshire fund. . . None felt he was violating any rule, or he wouldn't have done it. Some were Yale men, some were not--They simply gave with no questions asked. I made no secret of the fact since I was conscious of no wrong. . .

'Then Came the Bombshell'

Both boys went to Cheshire, he reported, and did well enough so that he began to be hopeful they would both make Yale, Then, in February came the bombshell!"

"The boys made application to Cornell, Harvard, and Columbia in addition to Yale since they wanted an Eastern education, and had no possible assurance they could make Yale. An enthusiastic Harvard alumnus took them to Cambridge to interview Bill Bender, the Dean of Admissions. Ralph's application for a scholarship to Harvard was sent home to his mother to fill out."

She decided that his scholarship to Cheshire was awarded by the Yale Alumni Association. "Naturally, this statement had a profound affect in Harvard and Yale pedagogical circles. Here was the crimson truth that Yale was admittedly subsidizing boys at prep school for eventual matriculation at Yale. . ."

Violation of Spirit?

After Ralph Tite confirmed his mother's understanding, Harvard "then made a formal protest to Arthur Howe (director of admissions at Yale), asking him to review the case for both Ralph Tite and Terry McGovern as violations of the Ivy League Presidents' Agreement. Mr. Howe conscientiously investigated the case.

"Mr. Howe, who acted creditably throughout, attempted to get a statement from the headmaster of Cheshire that would clear the boys specifically on any violation of the sprit of the Presidents' Agreement, but he decided against giving the required statement to Howe on the grounds that what he did with his scholarship funds was strictly his own business. . . At this point Terry was accepted by Yale. . . but the Scholarship Committee refused Terry a scholarship on the grounds that there were a limited number of scholarships. . ."

Terry accepted, Anderson points out, knowing that there was a question of his athletic eligibility, but feeling he was innocent of any wrong doing. "He felt sure that any fair court of appeal would give him a clean bill of health. . .

Suffered Enough

"By this time, the Yale authorities were completely on his side and Richard Carroll, Yale faculty representative, prepared to stand behind him in the Ivy eligibility meeting. Terry enrolled at Yale and was playing on the Yale freshman team when Carroll announced the Ivy Eligibility Committee had formally declared him ineligible since alumni subsidization must be discouraged at all costs.

"My closing statement is that Terry has suffered enough for the alleged wrongs of others. May he be eligible for the next three years."

So ends the story of Robert G. Anderson.

The Relevant Section of the Ivy Code

"No student entering after September 1, 1953 shall be eligible whose secondary school education was subsidized or whose post-college education is promised by an institution or a group of individuals not closely related to the family at a consideration for his attending the particular institution." This section was recently reprinted by alumni magazines of the Ivy Group schools.

Last December, Anderson sent the same account to the new director of athletics at Yale, Delaney Kiphuth, with the following letter, in an attempt to have the boy's name cleared.

"For your own information" he said, "I am enclosing a copy of the story exactly as it happened. The two points I would like to make for the boy are:

(1) He has been punished enough for a sin he had no part in. (2) Brown had trouble with the direct subsidization of boys in college and the penalty was only a year for a more serious offense. Since Terry has been penalized for a year, the Ivy's honor has been upheld and they should be willing to give the boy a break.

The major question to be answered by Eligibility Committee when it met was whether or not McGovern's year at Cheshire was subsidized by an outside group. Theoretically, he had received a scholarship from Cheshire, and Anderson and his friends had only contributed to the school's scholarship fund, or perhaps to send Ralph Tite to the school with McGovern.

Clear Violation Seen

But the Committee ruled unanimously, as Dean Watson, Harvard's member, pointed out, that the action even in McGovern's case was a "clear violation" of the President's code.

Dean Francis B. Godolphin, present chairman of the group said: "As chairman, carrying out of the policies of the Presidents' Policy Committee, I feel the action of the Eligibility Committee was justified by the evidence. As early as 1945, the general policies concerning appropriate support for students who wish to compete in athletics was laid down. The extension to preparatory or postgraduate work was discussed prior to its effective date."

But Dean Nicholas M. McKnight gave perhaps the most cogent reason for declaring the Yale freshman ineligible. It was clearly not the student's fault. He had accepted the scholarship at Cheshire in the faith that he was being treated no dif- ferently than any other scholarship student at the school. But as Dean McKnight, pointed out:

"The student received money from the school, and the school received money from the group of men in Chicago. In the judgment of the" Eligibility Committee there was a direct relationship between the two. The decision of the Committee was based upon that opinion."

Ivy League admissions officials have noted that there is virtually no way of checking on who might indirectly be paying for an applicants final year at prep school. In this case, it was only an application "freak" that brought an apparent violation to light to light.

Further, realizing from this case that many alumni of the Ivy Colleges are apparently ignorant of the subsidization clause, the Eligibility Committee decided to publicize the statement through alumni magazines, and show by this test case action that it clearly meant to enforce the Presidents' Agreement. So stands the case now