Rice Athletic Association Mystery: Solved

Kind of.

Until yesterday I had been completely unable to understand what the Rice Athletic Association was or what it did. How in the world was this different from the Athletic Department? The name was ubiquitous in the files, on stationary, printed on articles of clothing, programs, tickets, all over the place. Here are a couple of pictures from a post I wrote about this mystery and here’s the link to the post itself:

Even the track team’s socks say “Property of Rice Athletic Association!”

So yesterday I was working with the papers of the Committee on Outdoor Sports, the powerful group that had general responsibility for running athletics at Rice for many years and I found these minutes from January, 1964. It’s the first paragraph that I’m interested in:

I find this just hilarious: “No one could quite tell where the title ‘Rice Athletic Association’ came from, nor why it was used.” That is, in fact, just how the world works.

I’m also close to convinced that this is the best answer I’ll ever find. Note that Alan Chapman ’45 wrote these minutes. Alan was at various times Rice’s representative to the Southwest Conference and the NCAA (including a stint as NCAA president in 1973), and he served on the Committee on Outdoor Sports for decades, replacing his father-in-law Hubert Bray ’19, who himself served on that committee for decades. What I’m saying here is that if Alan Chapman didn’t know where the name came from I’m probably not ever going to figure it out either.

Bonus: Campus Photographer Tommy Lavergne, baffled by a fresh paint dilemma.


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6 Responses to Rice Athletic Association Mystery: Solved

  1. grungy1973 says:

    Cohen House parking lot.
    Saw those on Monday night, as I paid for parking on the other side of the minimalist hedge, while wondering if commoners are permitted to pay for parking in the new camouflaged parking structure, if they can find it.
    The fresh paint hints that these spaces are for the residents of Lovett who were fortunate enough to have previously had a space in the former Allen Center lot, and that they are NOT to park in the new camouflaged parking structure, if they can find it.

  2. Richard Schafer says:

    Remember, NCAA=National Collegiate Athletic Association, and you can find “Athletic Association” names all over the place today. According to the 1916 Campanile, Rice was a member of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association before the SWC, and it would have been natural for the Rice Athletics group to be the Rice Athletics Association.

    • Richard Schafer says:

      The first mention I can find in the Thresher archives is in the May 8, 1919 issue, which touts the hiring of Leslie Mann to help Coach Arbuckle in football and to coach baseball and basketball. “Heretofore it has been the policy of the Athletic Association to employ some big man to assist in coaching during the season, but this system has proven unsatisfactory and Coach Mann is to be employed regularly just as Athletic Director
      Arbuckle.” (page 1) And there are other very early references about a portion of the Student Association’s blanket tax going to fund the Athletic Association. One funny bit is in the 1962 April 1 Rice Trasher, in which Albert Patrick II supposedly has just won a court battle to declare Rice’s will invalid. In the article, Jess Neely supposedly “commented tersely, ‘The Rice Athletic Association will last a thousand years.'”

    • Melissa Kean says:

      That makes sense. And I have no alternate theory.

  3. Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt Rice Institute 1956 says:

    Second Photo (L to R)
    Dick Bowen, probably ’57,
    Coach ?,
    Harold Griffin ’56,

  4. Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67 says:

    That’s Emmett Brunson, the head track coach (also known as “Brun” to those of us who were maintaining a low profile)

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