Stories indexed with the term ‘Fielding Yost’

Column: The Other Side of Fielding Yost

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Two weeks ago, I wrote about one of the University of Michigan’s lowest moments, when athletic director Fielding H. Yost scheduled Georgia Tech for a football game in 1934, which required Michigan to sit out its star player, Willis Ward, because Southern teams would not take the field against African-Americans.

The attention Yost’s decision received surprised and embarrassed him. In his limited view of the situation, Yost thought he was simply providing a courtesy for a friend, not making a racial stand. National newspapers, radio programs and even Time magazine featured the controversy prominently. It also sparked bitter debate among students, and created a morale problem on the team. By all accounts the players felt Ward was intelligent, hard-working and well-liked.

That was the bad news – very bad news. The good news, as I wrote, is that the press, the alums, the students, and particularly Willis Ward and his roommate on the road, Gerald Ford, had the courage of their convictions, and derived lasting change from the incident.

But I feel it necessary to fill out this story, to give it more depth, and perspective. [Full Story]

Column: Big House Luxury Boxes?

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

At the dedication game of Michigan’s new 84,401-seat stadium in 1927, the Wolverines sent new rival Ohio State home with a 21-0 thumping. In that informal era, it was perfectly natural for athletic director Fielding Yost to walk back to campus with the game’s star, Bennie Oosterbaan.

“Mr. Yost was feeling pretty good,” Oosterbaan told author Al Slote. “We’d won, and the stadium was completely filled. He turned to me and said, ‘Bennie, do you know what the best thing about that new stadium is? Eighty-five thousand people paid five dollars apiece for their seats – and Bennie, they had to leave the seats there!‘”

While no one can be certain what Yost would think of the luxury boxes that are going up right now (and no matter what the university is calling them, that’s clearly what they are), the record suggests he would approve it – and for the very reasons he pushed to build the Big House in the first place. [Full Story]