The supporters of both Harvard and Princeton would surely welcome a correct statement with regard to the dealings between the two colleges in athletic matters. Through the kindness of Prof. Ames of the Athletic Committee, all correspondence is now given out for publication, and cannot fail to clear up the misleading statements previously made in the papers.
To understand the situation two facts should be remembered. Harvard and Yale have a four years' agreement to play football at Springfield on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, while Yale and Princeton are members of the Intercollegiate Football Association, by a rule of which the two leading teams of the year before play in New York on Thanksgiving Day.
Early in December of 1891, Harvard proposed by letter a renewal of the annual baseball games. There was no proposal as to football, but the hope was expressed that arrangements might be made later. Princeton sent a pleasant reply. and asked as to the probability of a proposal for football. As a result of this, representatives from Harvard and Princeton met in New York, Dec. 19, 1891. Harvard submitted a three years' proposal for baseball and a two years' proposal for football.
The document provided for a dual league, like the one proposed to Yale two years previously. Besides, the status of amateurs was defined, a time limit of four years put on players, and playing restricted to undergraduates, provided Yale and Princeton would agree. As regards football there was this provision:
There shall be one game of football annually between the "elevens" of the two universities, to be played the first year on Thanksgiving day either at Princeton or New York, as Princeton shall elect, the second year, on the second Saturday before Thanksgiving day at Cambridge.
This is the proposal, which has been so er roneously characterized as an attempt to shut out Yale altogether from playing in New York on Thanksgiving.
In reality, this would have placed Harvard and Yale on the same footing in their relations with Princeton, giving each college a New York game every other year. Harvard's precise attitude is shown in a letter sent to Princeton by the Advisory Committee, Feb. 2, 1892.
As to football, our position is very clearly defined. We are ready, by separate dual agreements, to make any arrangement which puts Harvard on equal terms with Yale. I do not see how an equal division of the Thanksgiving day games between the three universities could be accomplished, except by a six years' agreement to which we have no objection, without involving Yale's consent to play half of her games with us in Cambridge, to which I had not supposed she would agree. If she is willing to abandon her former position in this regard, Harvard is, of course, ready to give up the Springfield arrangement. But, as I said to Mr. Cuyler, we cannot pledge ourselves to play for so long a time in New York. We are entirely ready to pledge ourselves for that time to play either in New York or at Princeton and New Haven.
The difficulty is here; there is a feeling in the minds of many of our older graduates against the New York games. If a game in which Harvard played there should be attended by any scandals, I should expect the Corporation and Overseers to interdict any further playing in New York. For this reason we suggested a two year's arrangements in foot ball with you, regarding the New York game as experimental.
I desire to emphasize the fact that we are in no sense urging you to accept our proposal. In answer to your very courteous letter asking if we could make some definite statement in regard to football, we expressed our readiness and desire to play if we could agree on dates, and we gave you the only dates which were, in fairness open to us. If your relations to other colleges, or if the sentiment of your undergraduates does not permit you to play on those dates, and you find it impracticable to bring about any other arrangement on the lines I have indicated, it is simply a case where two persons, with the best of goodwill and without fault on either side, cannot come to terms."
This friendly statement expresses exactly Harvard's present attitude. Princeton decided not to accept the proposal, doubtless because of the existing relations with the intercollegiate association. Harvard men will recognize this as perfectly fair.
Princeton made a proposal to play on any Saturday in November that Harvard might prefer. This was fair as regarded Harvard and Pinceton, but would have excluded Harvard from all the Thanksgiving games, and would have placed her at a disadvantage as to her games with Yale.
As matters now stand, Harvard does not expect a game with Princeton this year. It rests with Princeton to decide as to the future.
One more point, Princeton kindly offered to support our application for renewed membership in the Intercollegiate Association, but Harvard replied:
"We thank you also for your kind suggestion in regard to Harvard's re-entrance into the football association, but we are irrecoverably committed against the policy of triple or multiple leagues."