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#TBT 1916: The Year In Gopher Athletics

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How did Gophers squads do 100 years ago? Let's take a look!

great photo boys
great photo boys

In 1916 there were only 4 varsity sports; Football, Basketball, Track, and Cross Country. Everything else was played at the Intramural level. Women's sports were governed not by the Athletic Department, but by "Women's Athletic Association." This association was fully funded by $0.25 annual dues from it's 386 members, and from ticket sales to the Basketball tournament.

For this week's #TBT I'll cover the four varsity sports (plus baseball!). Tune in next week as I review Intramural sports from 1916, and in two weeks when I cover Women's sports 100 years ago at Minnesota.

Since 1916 was a century ago it might help to give some context. The school had about 5,000 students. There wasn't an Athletic Department yet, all sports were run through the Department of Physical Education which had a budget of $7,800 that year. And of the 5,000 or so enrolled 44 of them lettered in at least 1 varsity sport.

Wearers of the M, 1916.

Baseball: Unfortunately the 1916 season was the first year in a 6 season break from Baseball at the U of M. Years of scandal over player eligibility coupled with poor results led to the temporary demise of the Gophers nine.

*Extra #TBT* How 2 Bros Killed Gopher Baseball for 6 Years.

Football: Gridiron Gophers of 1916 were in a classic 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' type situation.  The season was the Gophers physically assaulting opponents. If not for a bizarre loss to Illinois, Minnesota would have gone undefeated.

Interesting basketball jerseys, "bMb" on the chest.

Basketball: The 1916-1917 Basketball team was another bright spot. Winning a title for the first time in 13 years. Doc Cooke's team won 11 games, losing only to Illinois (weird coincidence..?!) by 1 point, 17-18 (go to hell Fighting Ilini). The reason for the team's success was the return of Norman W. Kingsley, who had played in 1913-1914 and then went on a two year hiatus from Basketball to focus on Football.

Cross Country: This season didn't have great results, losing to Wisconsin and coming in 4th place in the Conference Meet at Purdue. The best runner on the team was Carleton Wallace, who won the Carling Cup; he would later go on to be a Marine in World War I and be decorated for his bravery.

And they're off!

Track: The track team was anchored by football players Bernie Bierman and George Hauser. The season had poor results competing against other schools, but Ernest Bros (great name) set a new school record clearing twelve feet in the pole vault.

Bros, Bierman, and Sprafka all looking good.