Today's Tidbit... Army's Eligibility Standards
A primary reason college athletic conferences began forming in the 1890s was to define standards for athletic eligibility. Standards for freshmen, transfers, part-time students, and total years of competition were among those covered by conference rules. However, each independent set different standards, and West Point's approach led them to become a pariah in the college athletic world.
West Point has a longstanding tradition of allowing all cadets to participate on its athletic teams, including those who competed for several years at another school before entering West Point. For example, Bill Wood, Army's All-America fullback in 1925, played three years at Johns Hopkins before entering West Point, where he played three years of varsity football. Playing his fifth year of college football in 1924, he was on the field for the Army-Notre Dame game about which Grantland Rice wrote:
Outlined against a blue, gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again.
In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.
Navy dropped its athletic relations with Army in 1928 and 1929, but agreed to play the Army-Navy games in 1930 and 1931 to raise money for Depression-era charities. The Big Ten banned its teams from playing Army and other schools that did not follow the three-year total eligibility rule following the 1934 Army-Illinois game. After much gnashing of teeth, Army fell in line with everyone else in December 1937, and their athletic relations returned to normal.
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