Saturday, November 20, 2004

Coan ineligible


Originally published: 12-09-1960

Kansas University was stripped of its hard-earned 1960 football championship by a 5-3 vote of the league's faculty representatives, and Jayhawk halfback Bert Coan was declared ineligible for the first five games in 1961.

The Big Eight faculty committee, meeting in Kansas City, found that Kansas violated league rules in recruiting Coan and ordered the Jayhawks to forfeit their last two victories -- over Colorado and Missouri.

That gave the football championship to Missouri, beaten 23-7 by Kansas in the season finale. Colorado, loser 34-6 to KU, moves into second place, and KU drops to third with a 4-2-1 record. The move gave MU a 10-0 season record and a 7-0 in league play.

Apparently voting with Kansas at the meeting were Kansas State and Oklahoma State. However, the league has not made an official announcement of that as yet.

Previously, a 6-2 vote was required to pass a measure such as the one that involved KU. But for some unexplained reason the faculty men at the first order of business changed their policy Thursday to the point where only a simple majority of 5-3 was required in matters of eligibility.

It is understood that when the first vote was called, Missouri figured that Oklahoma would go against Kansas. However, OU apparently didn't do so and it was a 4-4 vote to let Kansas go home free of charge.

But then a second vote was called for an apparently Oklahoma swung to the Missouri side to give the necessary 5-3 vote to convict KU. The big puzzle among KU followers today was twhy the Big Eight allowed a second vote after KU had escaped the first time around.

"It looks as if they decided to keep voting until they got what they wanted," one man close to the KU scene declared.

The NCAA imposed a one-year football probation on Kansas Oct. 26 on a charge that three of its football players were illegally recruited.

A former Kansas athlete (Bud Adams), it was charged, took Coan to Chicago in 1958 for the All-Star football game after he played freshman football at Texas Christian. A member of the Texas Christian Board of Trustees also was on that plane, as was former KU coach George Sauer. The NCAA and the Big Eight both charged that Kansas violated the rule against excessive entertainment.

Adams has controlling interest in the Houston Oilers of the American Football League. Also, he is head of the Houston University Quarterback Club and has helped Rice University of Houston with its athletic program.

Reports have persisted that Missouri athletic director Don Faurot was the instigator of this action against Kansas. Thought Big Eight secretary Reaves Peters said Thursday that the measure was brought before the league at the request of KU itself, the facts still pointed toward Faurot as originator of the proceedings.

When the NCAA acted a few days ahead of the KU-Iowa game on Oct. 29, KU officials received a letter from Nebraska stating that Coan's eligibility was in doubt. Nebraska earlier had received a letter from Missouri's Faurot concerning Coan, and this was the first action along this line in the league.

KU then decided on its own before its game with Nebraska that a decision on Coan should be reached. The local school attempted to get a conference decision via a telephone conference but it was turned down by other schools. It was then decided the issue would be placed before the conference at the December meeting.

Therefore, even though KU had a part in the item's being on the Thursday agenda, all evidence points to Faurot's instigation of the action through his letter to Nebraska.

Kansas, feeling Coan was elibible, played the fleet halfback against Colorado and Missouri. Coan did not play against Nebraska because of a shoulder injury.

The Big Eight ruled Coan was ineligible for football from Oct. 26, 1960, to Oct. 25, 1961, so he will miss the first five games next season. The ruling does not keep him from competing as a sprinter on the track team.

Coach Jack Mitchell, Adams and Coan all appeared before the faculty representatives Thursday on their own. They were not summoned by the faculty men for hearings.

Games Coan will miss next season are with TCU, Wyoming, Colorado, Iowa State and Oklahoma. The latter three apparently voted against KU in Thursday's faculty meeting. He will play against Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas State, California and Missouri.

The conference cited Kansas for violations of these rules:

"All funds for the recruiting of prospective student-athletics shall be deposited with the member institution. The institution shall be exclusively and entirely responsible for the manner in which it expends the funds.

"No member institutions may arrange for or permit excessive entertainment of any prospective studnet-athlete on the campus or elsewhere.

"Off-campus trips for prospective students may not be provided or arranged by a member school its alumni, or other means."

Peters, executive secretary of the Big Eight, said it was the "toughest case to come before us in history." He did not elaborate.

Coan has maintained his innocence throughout. He said he was not a prospective KU student when he made the trip to Chiacgo; that he was not entertained by Adams; that Adams never did mention trying to have Bert enroll at KU; that no other person in the party tried to recruit him to Kansas.

Dean L.C. Woodruff represented Kansas at the meeting. He is expected to return to Lawrence Saturday.

This marked the first time in the history of the conference that a team was stripped of an official championship. Kansas will go down in the records as 1-0 loser to both Colorado and Missouri. KU's previous 7-2-1 season mark is now "officially" reduced to 5-4-1.

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