Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chapter VII

Chapter VII: USC Response to the Team's Accomplishments
It became quite obvious to me and the volleyball team that the University of Southern California administration and Alumni Association were quite cognizant and proud of their volleyball team and its successes. We knew that we had brought additional fame and glory to a university that fostered athletic endeavors and thrived on the fame from the championships they won. Without the collective support of administration, faculty, students and alumni, no college or university can expect to enjoy a climate conducive to athletic success. USC football, track and field, baseball, swimming, basketball among others had over the first half of the Twentieth Century achieved national and, to a great extent, international recognition. It was in that tradition that the USC volleyball team wanted to share its achievements with the university.

The President of USC customarily published an annual President's Report to the Alumni, describing the university's achievements and accomplishments academically and athletically over the past school year. One section of that report is captioned 'The Athletic Record,' in which President Fred Fagg's 1949 Report proudly reveals to the Alumni that "...the volleyball team won the national championship." See Appendices H-1 & H-2 That same year the October issue of the Southern California Alumni Review devoted nearly one-half a page to "SC Volleyballers Take National Title" which included a photo of three USC All-American volleyballers blocking "a foe's play." See Appendices H-3 & H-4 The article goes on to name a number of prominent alumni who have achieved national recognition for their involvement with volleyball.

After the USC volleyball team successfully defended its national title in mid-May 1950 in Knoxville, Tennessee, The Alumni Review did not wait until October to let the Alumni know that the 1949 championship had not been a fluke. The May 1950 issue See Appendices H-5 & H-6 of that monthly played up the fact that the volleyball team had successfully defended its crown. It pointed out that Robbie Duron, a second team All-American in 1949, was named to the first team All-Americans in 1950 Ibid. The article inadvertently omitted mentioning that Trojan Don Patterson was also named to the first team All-Americans. USC volleyballers John Brame and Ed Colburn were credited with being named to the second team. Ibid The USC volleyball team was lauded for "...put(ting) on a tremendous rally to once again bring (sic) the national collegiate title to S.C...." Ibid. In the same issue of the Alumni Review the column called 'Arnold Eddy on Sports' included the following statement:

"In Knoxville, Tenn., the volleyball team again won the National Collegiates. Volleyball is not a recognized intercollegiate sport and has no athletic dept. appropriations. Funds for the trip were raised by contributions from students and faculty through a campaign headed up by graduate student HANS VOGEL. The fraternities contributed. See Appendices H-5 & H-7."

USC alumni are renowned for their ardent and generous support of their university's athletic program, particularly when it comes to opening their pocketbooks to recruit the best in athletic talent available in the nation. Naturally, their reward comes from the successes and glory the athletic department brings home. During the first half of the Twentieth Century, before many households owned television sets, USC football teams were able to come close to filling the Coliseum with spectators for nearly all at-home games. The revenue that football generated both from ticket sales and alumni contributions went a very long way toward supporting the university's other sports. Minor sports that brought in little or no income were supported to the extent that they were popular with the students and Alumni, and achieved a reasonably acceptable measure of success. The team and I hoped volleyball would become one of these by proving that we were champions in the true Trojan tradition. We felt that after two consecutive successful years culminating in back-to-back national championships and boasting nine All-Americans, the volleyball team had successfully met the threshold requirements for support.After our come-back win in Knoxville, I thought it timely to make a move once again toward obtaining university recognition of volleyball as a sport, having tried unsuccessfully to achieve that goal the year prior. I sent a combination two-year summary of the team's achievements and request for recognition to Dr. Alex Aloia, Director, University Recreation Assn. on May 18, 1950 See Appendix H-8 Pages. 1 & 2. It listed the names of the team members during both volleyball seasons: 1948-49 and 1949-50. Their collective and individual achievements, i.e., tournament championships and All-American recognition were carefully enumerated. In addition letter awards were requested for regular team members for both seasons.

I pointed out that the University of California at Berkeley had given full recognition to men's volleyball over the past four years, but failed to send a team to the Knoxville tourney. Florida State University was given as an example of an institution of higher learning which had recognized volleyball over the past two years and granted the sport a budget of $1,500.00 during the 1949-50 season. Although the Florida State volleyball team did participate in the Knoxville nationals, it fared quite badly in the final standings See Appendix G-22. Based on the record of those two examples compared to what USC had achieved without recognition or funding, I requested greater support and recognition than had been given up to that time.

As mentioned above, I had made a similar request in the fall of 1949 and subsequently was granted a hearing before the Faculty Athletic Committee on September 29, 1949. See Appendix H-10 The USC student senate, famous for its bitter political wrangling, was able with few exceptions to agree that volleyball should be recognized as a sport by the faculty committee. See Appendix H-9 The recommendation to the senate had been sponsored by Don Gevirtz, then student head of the University Recreation Assn. Ibid. No recognition was granted then, and, unfortunately, the answer would be the same this time around. However, volleyball and crew were allowed to issue award letters at their own expense to their team members See Appendix H-10. The insignia, however, could not be similar to those granted and issued by the university for officially recognized sports. For me, it was the final straw. I came to the conclusion that nothing that we had done or could accomplish in the future was going to convince the university that it was in the school's best interest to make volleyball a recognized intercollegiate sport. Time, and time alone would have to make that come to pass.

In addition to my studies in fields of German and International Relations, I had begun taking some courses in Elementary School Administration at USC from Dr. Norman Wampler, guest professor and Superintendent of the Bellflower Elementary District. After making a nation-wide survey regarding the prospects for obtaining a position teaching German on the college level, it became quite obvious that German professors were a hardy breed who remained on the job into a ripe old age. My best offers to teach German were from the University of North Dakota in Fargo, access to which had just been become inaccessible due a severe snowstorm, and Northwestern University. North Dakota's offer paid around $4,000.00 per year for teaching a normal class load - a reasonable entry-level sum; the Northwestern offer was for $5000.00; however, in addition to teaching a normal daytime load, I would have to instruct evening and summer school classes as well to receive that sum of money. Both offers were contingent upon my receiving a doctorate within the next two years. These salaries become significant when compared with those received by university professors during that time frame. The head of the Classical Studies Department at USC with a 30-year tenure and a doctorate from Harvard was receiving $2800.00 per year.

Salaries for elementary school teachers in Southern California entering on the lowest step averaged $3,000,00. This amount rose incrementally every year and increased even more for additional coursework completed. Dr. Wampler suggested I teach a third grade in his district for a couple of years while I was earning credits for my administration credential. He would then promote me to a principal's position at a much higher salary. My son was quite ill and required expensive medical attention. My wife continued to work because the $1,600.00 salary I earned at Cal Tech plus the G.I. education stipend of $95.00 per month did not cover our expenses. The position as translator for the USC Office of Naval Intelligence had been a perk reserved for USC personnel. It went to someone else when I began teaching at Cal Tech.

After having reached a dead end in my attempts to obtain recognition for volleyball at USC in spite of winning two national championships, I decided to accept Dr. Wampler's offer to teach in his district. I terminated my German and International Relations doctoral program at USC, and notified Cal Tech that I would not be teaching German there in the future. I concentrated on my education studies at USC toward an administrative credential. My coaching days were over as well. Dr. Stallcup asked me to join the Jonathan Club and play volleyball for his team. USVBA District 13 director, Clive Graham, invited me to work on week-ends obtaining listings for his real estate firm and play for a team he was coaching and sponsoring at the Pacific Coast Club in Long Beach. I did play a bit for Clive, but did not go to work for him - probably a bad mistake considering the tremendous upswing in the real estate market at that time.

I began teaching third graders, but sold home improvements on a commission on week-ends. I had started my selling career in 1936 at the age of 14 at Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Long Beach. With a booming housing market, I was soon earning as much selling home improvements during a week-end as I was making teaching third grade for one month. After turning down offers two times to become the sales manager for the home improvement firm that employed me, I finally relented when I was guaranteed a salary of $15,000.00 per year plus a bonus based on volume of sales. I resigned my teaching position in Bellflower, quit taking classes at USC, and began to concentrate on supporting a family with a stay-at-home wife and sick child.

I was given one more opportunity to contribute something to this sport that has remained so close to my heart. In 1967, as founding trustees of the Saddleback Community College District (now called the South Orange County Community College District), I and my four fellow charter board members had the opportunity to build a community college district literally from the ground up. As we sat around a table in a local high school cafeteria, we began to develop plans for a new community college district serving the southern 48% of Orange County. Doing so presented a unique, but daunting challenge. We had only our educational philosophies to guide us, and we hoped we could find sufficient common ground to be able to launch an institution that would serve the students and residents well and make them proud of its accomplishments.

We were able to agree on academic goals without too much wrangling; but, concurring on a prioritized list of sports to support demanded quite a bit of intense discussion; differences of opinion became quite pronounced. The debates that followed made each trustee realize the absolute need to present recommendations in an unbiased manner and to avoid appearing self-serving . Unfortunately, after learning that our district was going to be making some weighty decisions about the community college district's athletic future, the Orange County Register decided it timely to publish an update See Appendix I-5 Parts 1 through 5 of an article the newspaper had done several years earlier about my volleyball history. The sports reporter who wrote it had checked each trustees' personal athletic background, and found a copy of the previous article in the Register's archives. He asked for an interview, so that his story would be current. After the updated article appeared, it seemed unwise and probably counter-productive for me to appear to be influencing my fellow trustees to place volleyball high on the priority list. The district eventually instituted Women's volleyball. Six of the past eight women's volleyball teams at Saddleback College have qualified for the post-season playoffs, including state tournament qualifying teams in 1997 and 1998 and the state championship tournament runners-up in 1998