The Birth of a Governing Body: NCAA Chronicles

By Joseph Nardone
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sport

In light of the most recent fiasco by the NCAA, an external investigation of its internal self, the downpour of disgust for the governing body of college sports has never been higher. This latest example of NCAA ineptitude is coming in the same year as the Shabazz Muhammad wackiness, the Myck Kabongo waiting, two Akron Zip players being suspended for not dotting the I’s, and so much more. There lays just a (very) few examples of how the NCAA is wielding its power in an injustice manner. That’s not to say they haven’t done some good work along the way but nobody wants to hear about someone actually doing their job.

How outraged should we actually be? I don’t actually think that we(fans, media, players, coaches, NCAA employees, etc) are nowhere near the level of piping-hot-lava angry we should be. This is likely another NCAA situation where the people in charge in that building in Indianapolis will get away from the mess generally free and unscathed. Where the NCAA as an organization will keep chugging along and keep pushing their complex and contradictory rules along the way.

To feel the proper amount of outrage is really up to the individual. Like the story doesn’t resonate with you, or you just don’t care, or you even feel like this is another hopeless battle against a monster(Hey, Jamie Lee Curtis did kill Michael Myers. Like a dozen times!). Or maybe there is another reason why you don’t really feel that angry towards the NCAA, you have no idea why folks are getting mad in the first place. As in, it’s the NCAA, we all expect horribleness by now.

Starting now, I’m going to be releasing a series of articles chronicling the NCAA. From its concept, conception, birth, ideology, key changes in philosophy, controversy, impending death, etc, will all be covered. This story of the NCAA’s ability to get in its own way should be bigger. I hope to give you the context to fulfill the right you have to be properly furious with the NCAA.

Why do we have the NCAA:

The NCAA hasn’t always been around(Shocker). While intercollegiate competition has been around since 1852, rowing matches pitting Harvard vs. Yale, their wasn’t really a need for a governing body of college sports, their were barely college sports to govern. Believe it or not though, rowing was a major sport back in the day all the way to the late 1800’s. So somebody had to make sure all was proper and fair for those super-athletic rowers. That’s where the Rowing Association of American Colleges and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association came in. Think of them as the first form of rule over collegiate sports. They served their purpose, overseeing the integrity of rowing as well as figuring out who was actually eligible to participate in this amateur sport.

Then other sports started to emerge, for the sake of this topic, most importantly football. When football first came to the scene the rules of the games were in a constant flux, sometimes being made up or tweaked right before an actual game. This resulted in a lot of preventable injuries and sometimes death. It became a hot topic issues, and like today, the government felt the need to fix something that only they can fix, sports.

The NCAA dates itself back to a series of conferences headed by then President, Theodore Roosevelt. Our good ole Uncle Teddy wanted reform in collegiate sports (Still more an activity than a competition. Or even more importantly, a money factory) to the point where he wanted football games to no longer be contested. His push for reform actually convinced many universities to actually discontinue their football programs all together. But that didn’t stop football from growing and continuing, there was money to be made.

Following Roosevelt’s message to the academic world concerning their lack of institutional control on sports, Henry MacCracken(Then vice chancellor of New York University) decided it was time to act. MacCracken organized a meeting with 13 other universities to fix what is wrong with college sports in 1906. Just one meeting later, 62 institutions of higher-learning became charter members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, which would eventually become the NCAA in 1910.


Pretty simple here. The NCAA was founded to help oversee amateur sports and to primarily protect student-athletes. However, it wasn’t just one man’s noble idea that came to fruition, the President of the United States had to actually call for reform before anything was done. The original concept of the NCAA was simple and fair, to protect student-athletes. Roosevelt, while talking about reform, was clearly doing so with them in mind. It didn’t take long for the NCAA to change and morph their ways, as you will find out in the upcoming article releases.

Even to further simplify, the President wanted to protect kids from death. Then a group of people connected directly to schools(Who can prosper financially off of sports) came together, to further fix the college sports landscape. Because you know, they know better than the President.

Note: Tomorrow will be another release in a series chronicling the NCAA. Think of today as the conception/original concept and tomorrow as an “Early Days” look of the NCAA. 

Update: Click the following links for the next entries in the series. Second entry is Structure and Sections while the third entry is Modern Era and Controversies and the final entry Overhaul or Demise.

Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone


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