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Purdue University. Athletics Department


Historical Information

It is noted by Winthrop E. Stone, Chairman Faculty Committee on Athletics in an Annual Report of the Officers of State of the State, 1900, “…Since Purdue students first began to evince an interest in athletics, the Faculty has, as a matter of policy, presented an attitude of sympathy and co-operation; at the same time insisting upon a constant recognition of the principles of clean, manly sport, and of a proper subordination of athletics to other important interests of the University and students. In the pursuance of this principle, Purdue has acquired an enviable reputation in athletics, and has been at times recognized as one of the most progressive institutions of the middle West in its athletic policy.”

It is also noted in this report that there is no record of the first intercollegiate contests in which Purdue students participated, but it is highly likely that baseball games were played with neighboring institutions early in Purdue’s history.

The first field day contests were held by the graduating class of 1887.

In the fall of 1887 the first intercollegiate football game was played with Butler College. Stone notes in the report, “Since that time, which may be considered as about the beginning of the introduction of this game in the West, Purdue was engaged regularly in this sport with all of the leading colleges of the Middle West.”

In 1893 a group of citizens of Lafayette offered a silver Tiffany cup to the college which was able to hold the football championship of Indiana for three successive years. The cup was won by Purdue, and from 1891 to 1899 Purdue was acknowledged champion of the State in football.

Stone also states, “Previous to 1891, games of baseball and football had been played on grounds located in the city, and Field Day sports were conducted upon the drives and lawn of campus. In 1891 the Trustees voted to set aside a plat of eight acres, immediately to the north of the campus, to be used as an athletic field, and to be known as Stuart Field, in honor of the President of the Board, the late C.B. Stuart. Money was appropriated to enclose the field, and the work was completed on April 15, 1892. The field was dedicated the following day by a baseball game with Butler College. From funds derived from admissions fee, the Athletic Association constructed in 1892 bleachers capable of seating about eight hundred persons.”

In 1898, the sophomore class contributed money, labor and material for the construction of a banked racing track around the outer edge of Stuart Field, oval in form and one-third of a mile in length, and also a cinder path for straight-away running events. The same class, upon graduation, gave President Smart $500 to be used for the construction of a covered pavilion for the athletic field. This pavilion was able to hold 600 persons and was erected during the summer of 1899 on the west border of the field.

Stone also notes in his report,”…The organization of athletic affairs at Purdue has been based upon a fair representation of all interested, and upon a systematic and business-like management. Previous to 1890 each athletic sport represented in the University had its own directors, selected from the student body. In June, 1890, an athletic association was organized which, however, did not reach its full development until May, 1891, when at a student mass meeting, a constitution was adopted, and the machinery of the Purdue Athletic Association was set in operation.”

In the fall of 1894, President Smart issued a call for a conference on athletic matters between the Presidents of Illinois, Chicago, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Purdue. The meeting was held in Chicago, January 12, 1895, with all the Presidents reporting, with the exception of President Angell of Michigan. A draft of rules for the regulation of intercollegiate sports had already been prepared by President Smart and was adopted at this meeting. Indiana and Iowa later joined this “College Conference on Athletics.”


Stone, Winthrop E. “Report On Athletics at Purdue University.” Annual Reports of the Officers of State of the State of Indiana (1899): 34-38. Web. 28 July 2014.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Purdue University Athletics collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 160
Scope and Contents The Purdue University Athletics collection documents Purdue athletics from the earliest years to recent times. The majority of the collection consists of items related to Purdue football; a scrapbook of clippings from the 1800s that contains Purdue football related articles from Lafayette, Indianapolis and Chicago newspapers. The clippings include an article about Purdue’s first football win on November 16, 1889, an article about the game against Wabash, November 23, 1889, that prompted the...
Dates: 1880 - 2016

Barbara Cook Collins collection of Cheerleading Uniforms and Pennants

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSA 26
Abstract The collection contains a women’s cheerleading uniform and several pennants from 1939.
Dates: 1939; Other: Date acquired: 11/02/1988

Ray W. Schalk collection of slides

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 66, Placement: 11
Identifier: MSP 298
Scope and Contents The Ray W. Schalk collection is comprised of slides from 1953. The slides document a Purdue-Notre Dame football game, a visit to Duke University, and include images of Mr. and Mrs. Schalk.
Dates: 1953

United States flag that flew over U.S. capitol

 Unprocessed — Box: 1 box
Identifier: 20130820.4