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John L. Griffith and the Commercialization of College Football Broadcasts in the Depression Era
Unformatted Document Text:  O’Toole/John L. Griffith and the Commercialization of College Football Broadcasts in the Depression Era The Carnegie Report and the Great Depression Although privately backing the Republicans, Griffith kept a low political profile publicly, at least until 1929 when a scathing condemnation of college football was published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Titled American College Athletics, the comprehensive survey, commissioned by the NCAA, enumerated some of the worst practices of intercollegiate athletics. 26 Previous reports and critiques of intercollegiate athletics had covered much the same ground as the Carnegie Report, but this study created more than the usual ripple of interest because it challenged the very foundation and structure of college sports. It also named names, including every member of the Big Ten. The report’s lead author, Howard Savage, had shared some of the preliminary findings with the Big Ten Commissioner as early as 1926. Griffith had relayed those finding to his Conference along with warnings that unethical or unsportsmanlike behavior would not be tolerated. 27 At a 1927 Big Ten meeting that included coaches, athletic directors, university presidents, and faculty representatives, Griffith reaffirmed his commitment to the spirit of amateurism and fair play and pledged to uphold new regulations that banned not only financial aid to athletes from alumni or other groups but also scholarships, based on athletic skill. 28 The Conference’s support for this hard line stance was evident the following spring when faculty representatives voted to suspend athletic relations with the University of Iowa for its failure to end recruiting and subsidization violations. 29 Four days after publication of the Carnegie Report, the stock market crashed. As the extent of the financial crisis became clear, a shift in tone marked Griffith’s private and conference-wide correspondence. In early 1930, writing confidentially to St. John about the Carnegie Report, he claimed that “…some of the other men in the East either wrote parts of the 10

Authors: O'Toole, Kathleen.
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O’Toole/John L. Griffith and the Commercialization of College Football Broadcasts in the 
Depression Era 
The Carnegie Report and the Great Depression
Although privately backing the Republicans, Griffith kept a low political profile publicly, 
at least until 1929 when a scathing condemnation of college football was published by the 
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Titled American College Athletics, the 
comprehensive survey, commissioned by the NCAA, enumerated some of the worst practices of 
intercollegiate athletics.
  Previous reports and critiques of intercollegiate athletics had covered 
much the same ground as the Carnegie Report, but this study created more than the usual ripple 
of interest because it challenged the very foundation and structure of college sports. It also 
named names, including every member of the Big Ten. 
The report’s lead author, Howard Savage, had shared some of the preliminary findings 
with the Big Ten Commissioner as early as 1926. Griffith had relayed those finding to his 
Conference along with warnings that unethical or unsportsmanlike behavior would not be 
tolerated.
 At a 1927 Big Ten meeting that included coaches, athletic directors, university 
presidents, and faculty representatives, Griffith reaffirmed his commitment to the spirit of 
amateurism and fair play and pledged to uphold new regulations that banned not only financial 
aid to athletes from alumni or other groups but also scholarships, based on athletic skill.
 The 
Conference’s support for this hard line stance was evident the following spring when faculty 
representatives voted to suspend athletic relations with the University of Iowa for its failure to 
end recruiting and subsidization violations.
Four days after publication of the Carnegie Report, the stock market crashed. As the 
extent of the financial crisis became clear, a shift in tone marked Griffith’s private and 
conference-wide correspondence. In early 1930, writing confidentially to St. John about the 
Carnegie Report, he claimed that “…some of the other men in the East either wrote parts of the 
10


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