Football Season Part 2: The Southwest Collection’s Big 12 and NCAA Records

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These figurines are actually whiskey bottles molded into the likeness of mascots of former SWC schools that are now members of the Big 12 Conference. From left to right: the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University, and Baylor University

A couple weeks back we told you about our Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC) Records; over 300 boxes of material documenting that organization’s more than 80 year existence. After the SWC disbanded in 1996, many of its schools moved on to other conferences, the largest of which was the newly-created Big 12 Conference. The Southwest Collection is also proud to make its records available to our patrons. These two collections dovetail with our National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Records, which date from the 1930s until the late 1990s, to provide a thorough picture of collegiate athletics in Texas and its neighboring states for nearly 100 years.

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This set containing a commemorative pitcher and glasses were crafted shortly before the demise of the SWC in 1996.

Why did the SWC disband? Most would agree that money was a leading factor. A new conference such as the Big 12 would give the new members more media coverage and therefore more revenue for their individual schools. Another theory claims that politicians had a role in its breakup by pressuring schools, other politicians, and university representatives to consider a new outlook for collegiate sports in Texas and neighboring states. Either way, four SWC schools, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Baylor University, united with the Big Eight Conference to create the Big 12. The legacy of the Southwest Athletic Conference remained tangible in the many rivalries that persist to this day in the Big 12 in all sports.

The collections of records reflect this in numerous ways. For example, some material pertains to the annual October football match-up during the Texas State Fair between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The Big 12’s records include a large number of member universities’ media guides, as well as Conference-wide media guides.  The media guides cover baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, and volleyball. The Big 12 continues to deposit media guides and other publications with the Southwest Collection. Office files and printed materials promoting the Big 12, such as handbooks and directories, are also present.

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This is a whiskey bottle cast in the likeness Raider Red, one of the mascots of Texas Tech University, the home of the Southwest Collection. In 1958 Texas Tech University was the second to last school to join the Southwest Conference, but was a founding member of the Big 12 in 1996.

The NCAA itself, of which the Southwest Conference was a member and to which the Big 12 still belongs, needs little introduction. It monitors athletic programs from virtually all   collegiate athletic programs. Among other things, they assess schools’ compliance with academic regulations; student and media relations; and recruiting, sports, officiating, and championship regulations. Our collection of their records consists of a variety of material. Manuals, convention programs and artifacts, annual reports, yearbooks, directories, periodicals, and committee handbooks are the most common items. Perhaps most interesting are the historic and descriptive documents, studies, surveys, and analyses that relate to the NCAA’s oversight of recruiting, compliance, student athletes, faculty members, and media relations. Finally, there are a number items to championships in all sports, as well more general documentation related to baseball, basketball, football, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

As with all of our collections, our Reference Department  would like nothing more than to arrange for researchers to peruse these records. Don’t hesitate to contact them!

– Robert Weaver

– Photos by John Perrin

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It’s Football Season: Time to Read about the Southwest Athletic Conference Records!

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These figurines are actually whiskey bottles molded to resemble the mascots of former Southwest Athletic Conference schools. From left to right: back row: the University of Texas Longhorns, Southern Methodist University Mustangs, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Center row: Rice University Owls, University of Arkansas Razorbacks, and Baylor University Bears. Front row: University of Houston Cougars and Texas Tech University Red Raiders.>

NCAA universities throughout the U.S. are now deep into 2013’s football season. The Southwest Collection has close ties with this yearly phenomenon, as well as all other NCAA sports, by virtue of being the archive of record for the now-disbanded Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC). Former SWC teams now populate the Big 12 Conference, Southeastern Conference, and others.

On May 6, 1914, several universities’ representatives met to discuss the future of regional sports among local schools. Baylor University, Southwestern University, Texas A&M College, Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University), Louisiana State University, the University of Texas, and the University of Arkansas participated. That December, representatives from the Rice Institute (now Rice University) and the University of Oklahoma also met with the group at the Rice Hotel in Houston. With the exception of Louisiana State, all participants became charter members of the Southwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

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The Southwest Conference Records contains programs and pre-season guides for all sports. Most numerous are football Roster & Record books like these.

The SWC saw ten universities join or leave their league during its over 80 year run. Rice left for a short spell from 1916-1917. Southern Methodist University joined in 1918, Texas Christian University hopped on in 1923, Texas Tech University joined in 1958, and the University of Houston signed up in 1972. Southwestern left in 1917, Oklahoma dropped out in 1920, Oklahoma A&M departed in 1926, and the University of Arkansas left in 1991. For one year, 1920, Phillips University of Enid, Oklahoma, was a member of the conference.

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Southwest Conference football teams have appeared in numerous bowls, most frequently the Cotton Bowl. Above are commemorative artifacts from some of those games, most notably a clock celebrating 1988 Cotton Bowl between Texas A&M and Notre Dame.>

It was not until 1938 that the SWC would elect an Executive Secretary (later renamed Commissioner in 1982.) Dr. P. W. St. Clair served from 1938-1945 as a part-time employee. Others who served were the following: James H. Stewart (1945-1950), Howard Grubbs (1950-1973), Cliff Speegle (1973-1982), Fred Jacoby (1982-1993), Steve Hatchell (1993-1995), and finally Kyle Kallander (1995-1996).

The Southwest Conference also spawned such sports legends as Carl Lewis (track), Doak Walker (football), Sheryl Swoopes (women’s basketball), Darrell Royal (football, coach), Teddy Lyons (baseball), Earl Campbell (football), and Andre Ware (football) to name only a few.

So what SWC records does the Southwest Collection have? Over 300 linear feet of material! There are boxes full of day-to-day business records such correspondence, memoranda, financial materials, and memorabilia. Among its copious printed material are media guides, game programs, news clippings, and record books from each of the member universities. But that’s not all: included are 343 sound recordings, 854 video tapes, 10 reels of microfilm, 538 oversized items, and 12 linear feet of photographic material. Oral histories of numerous individuals involved with the Conference are also available.

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This is the memo sent to all Southwest Athletic Conference university presidents regarding the dissolution of the Conference 1996.

Sadly, on June 30, 1996, the Southwest Athletic Conference disbanded. Its teams departed for other conferences such as the Big 12…the records of which the Southwest Collection also houses!

But that’s a story for a future blog…

By Robert Weaver
Photos by John Perrin