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Department of Athletics Records

Identifier: 0000-0006

Scope and Contents

The Department of Athletics Records are arranged in 21 series. Series have been designated for individual sports, administration papers, and oversize material. The records chart the progress of the school's teams from the beginning of Carnegie Tech, through the football team's triumph over Notre Dame, past the de-emphasis of sports by President Doherty, and on to the present state of athletics at CMU. The documents include newspaper clippings, programs, schedules and rosters, brochures, miscellaneous memorabilia as well as administrative papers such as annual reports or meeting minutes. The collection also includes articles of clothing and memorabilia.


  • 1908-2003




The intercollegiate athletics program was founded in 1906 with a primary focus on baseball and football teams with basketball being added to the program in 1907, as well as a lesser emphasis on several so-called "minor sports" such as track, tennis and swimming. On March 13, 1920, the relatively small, faculty based athletics program was replaced with the Athletics Council, an aggressive, alumni-driven program, one of whose major goals was a bigger, better football program. The football program was very successful in its early years, especially from 1914-1932 under the coaching of Walter P. Steffen, who, with a career record of 88 wins, 53 losses and 8 ties, led the team to victory over other Class-A opponents such as Pitt, Notre Dame, and W and J, as well as participating in several Bowl events. The baseball program was short-lived, but had significant successes under several coaches including Honus Wagner before it was discontinued in 1926.

After a loss at the Sugar Bowl in the 1937 season, President Doherty declared an overall de-emphasizing of intercollegiate activities, citing rising operation deficits and a loss of focus on the academic work of the school. Doherty's announcement was met with great debate, including several student protests and an effigy hanging. Due to the institution-wide de-emphasis, as well as the discontinuation of several programs due to wartime constraints, the intercollegiate athletics program showed both long losing streaks and a growing disinterest on the part of the students. The basketball team, which had won the Eastern Intercollegiate Conference Championship in 1937-1938, had a long series of losing seasons, as well as .000 "goose-egg" year, though eventually the basketball program found more success within the de-emphasis than did the football program. The football team went a full nine years without a home victory, from 1940-1949, and never again reached the Class A status it had once held. In contrast to the decline of the major sports, the so-called "minor sports" of tennis, track and swimming consistently succeeded, setting multiple records as well as participating in numerous championships, even with only intermittent support from administration and students.


10.0 Linear feet (10 boxes)




The collection contains information on intercollegiate sports at Carnegie Mellon, particularly basketball and football.

Physical Location

The oversize prints are located in the Hunt Library 3rd Floor Map Cabinet.



Related Archival Materials

Four boxes of photographs related to Athletics at Carnegie Mellon University can be found in the General Photographs collections. The University Archives also holds the Lloyd Yoder Collection -- Lloyd Yoder was the captain of Carnegie Tech's football team in 1926 and named an All-American player the same year.


Processed, finding aid created by Liz Amrhein, March 17, 2005; additional writing by Steve Slota, June 12, 2008; Converted to EAD and edited by J. Dustin Williams, December 14, 2009; additional writing by Laure Bukh, November 4, 2013; additional writing by Katherine Barbera, July 21, 2014.
Department of Athletics Records, 1908-2003
December 14, 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(412) 268-5021