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. . .