Skip to main content

University of Minnesota Athletics records

Identifier: ua00953


Collection contains the records of the various adminstrative departments that oversee student athletics at the University of Minnesota, to include: Department of Physical Education; Department of Physical Education and Athletics; Women's Athletic Association; Department of Physical Education for Women; Department of Intercollegiate Athletics; Men's Intercollegiate Athletics; and Women's Intercollegiate Athletics. Also included are records documenting individual sports, to include programs, media guides, rosters, schedules, and statistics.

Scope and Content

The collection is arranged into five series. The Men's Athletics Administration, Women's Athletics Administration, and Faculty Representative for Intercollegiate Athletics series include materials such as reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, budgets, policy documents, governance, information regarding athletic facilities on campus, events, and documentation related to national athletics conferences.

The Sports series includes published materials, such as media guides, brochures, records and game results; clippings, historical information, and handbooks about individual and team sports programs at the University; and is divided into four subseries:

  • Men's Athletics - Contains records pertaining to men's sports from the late 1880s to the 2010s
  • Women's Athletics - Contains records related to Division I and extramural sports
  • Men's and Women's Sports - Contains records applicable to multiple events and teams
  • Clubs, Boosters, and Alumni Groups - Contains records related to the "M" Club, sports hall of fames, and alumni groups
The Rosters, Schedules, and Statistics series contains records maintained by coaches, assistants, and administrative staff that document individual athletic participation, team composition, and outcomes of contests, games, and matches, organized chronologically by sport (seasons of play).


  • 1876-2012


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

Athletic competitions – intramural and intercollegiate – began at the University of Minnesota in the 1870s. The October 7, 1880 issue of the “Ariel,” the University student newspaper, announced the forming of an Athletic Association with a purpose to “foster athletic sports of all kinds.” In the Student Societies section of the 1885-1886 University Calendar, the Athletic Association is described as “a University organization, having for its object the general physical culture of the students, and the encouragement of a proper spirit in favor of hearty, manly sports.” One of the first women’s athletics associations was the Women’s Basketball Association, announced in the February 13, 1897 “Ariel.”

In the 1890s, Departments of Physical Culture were established for men “with a view to the healthful physical development of the entire student body” and for women “to develop a strong and symmetrical physique with a graceful and easy carriage” within the College of Science, Literature and the Arts, as listed in the 1893-1894 University Calendar. Louis J. Cooke was appointed as the first head of Physical Culture for Men in 1897.

Intramural activities and intercollegiate (sometimes referred to as interscholastic) sports for men and women grew in popularity during 1890s, but at the end of the 1897 football season a “load of debt and the suspicion of dishonest dealings among student managers” brought new oversight for University athletics. The University of Minnesota Athletic Association was established and its officers -- four students, two faculty members, and two alumni -- would constitute the Board of Athletic Control (sometimes referred to as the Athletic Board of Control), charged with “the general control and supervision of the athletic interests of the University” (“Ariel,” December 4, 1897).

When the University Senate was established in 1912, the Senate’s by-laws called for two standing athletics committees: Committee on Intra-mural Sports and Physical Education to supervise the gymnasium and athletics facilities as well as intramural sports and physical education for men and women; and the Committee on Inter-collegiate Athletics to supervise tickets and other sources of income, auditing and expenditures, and students’ eligibility to participate in intercollegiate sports, and to administer “in detail the business of the Athletic Association…”

The Senate Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics and the Athletic Board of Control shared student members and faculty members. Faculty serving on the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics appointed to lead ticket supervision and auditing supervision also served as the two faculty members on the Athletic Board of Control.

Physical Culture (and later Physical Training and then Physical Education) for Women was taught by several different faculty members, but the first full-time director of Physical Education for Women, J. Anna Norris, was hired in 1912.

In her report for the 1912-1913 President’s Report, Dr. Norris noted, “In the reorganization of the Department of Physical Education for Women…the maintenance and improvement of the health of the young women of the University was made the center of the scheme. This end has been sought by means of (1) physical examinations and individual consultations with students, (2) courses in hygiene to enable the students to understand their physical needs and to live accordingly, (3) carefully adapted courses in exercise to aid in their physical upbuilding, (4) cooperation with the Women's Athletic Association in order that the girls' ambition for contests, class numerals, and University emblems might be utilized to increase their interest in taking exercise.”

Dr. Henry L. Williams served as both head football coach and director of athletics from 1900 to 1921. In the early 1920s, many alumni and members of the campus community believed the “athletic system at the University is out of date” and if continued in its present form would cause “athletics at the University and the University itself to lose prestige.” A committee of the General Alumni Association Board of Directors recommended that the University establish “an athletic department along the line followed at a number of other western universities, and employ an athletic director who shall give his entire time to that work.”

The 1921-1922 President’s Report outlined the reorganization process whereby three committees -- one appointed by the Board of Regents, one by the General Alumni Association, and one by the Athletic Board of Control -- conferred and worked together on the “whole question of reorganization” for University athletics. The three committees “came to the conclusion that there should be a regularly organized department of physical education and athletics, with full-time men in charge.” Four areas of work would be emphasized: 1) physical education for all men students, 2) intramural sports, 3) intercollegiate athletics, and 4) “a course of academic grade for the training of men in supervised physical education.” A Director of Physical Education and Athletics was appointed.

At the April 26, 1922, Board of Regents meeting, the Regents received and approved a resolution adopted by the Athletic Board of Control stating that the Board of Control resigned as of May 1, 1922. The Regents also approved a resolution whereby “all the powers, duties, and obligations formerly exercised and performed by the Athletic Board of Control…(be) transferred to and vested in the Standing Committee of the Senate on Intercollegiate Athletics.”

At the same time, the Department of Physical Education for Women worked to “promote the health of the women students” by conducting annual physical examinations of all women students; offering courses in hygiene, gymnastics, dancing, swimming, field hockey, basketball, and baseball; working with the Women’s Athletic Association in encouraging and supporting athletic competitions; and through the College of Education, offering a “four-year professional course designed to prepare graduates for the responsible direction of physical education activities.”

The Women’s Athletic Association remained a student-led organization giving “every coed the opportunity to take part in recreational activities and competitive sports, such as archery, badminton, basketball, bowling, golf, softball, swimming, tennis, and volleyball” (Women’s Athletic Association Constitution, 1948).

At the December 14, 1962, Board of Regents meeting, a report was presented by an ad hoc committee appointed to “evaluate the program and support of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics for Men.” The Regents voted to approve the report’s recommendations to establish a School of Physical Education, the director of which would report to the Dean of the College of Education for nonprofessional and professional physical education for men and women and to the Vice President for Educational Relationships and Development for managing intramural sports; and to establish a Department of Intercollegiate Athletics with a Director of Athletics reporting to the Vice President for Educational Relationships and Development and “responsible to the Senate Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics on such matters as are prescribed by the Constitution of the University Senate.”

The 1964-1945 General Information Bulletin described the University’s physical education offerings, “In addition to a broad instructional program in physical education activities for all students, the School of Physical Education provides excellent opportunities in sports, dance, and exercise for both men and women students. Opportunities as either a participant or spectator are available in the intercollegiate athletics program for men sponsored by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. For men students a broad program of organized intramural sports is maintained in 22 individual and team activities…The Women's Athletic Association is comprised of an organized intramural program consisting of such activities as archery, aquatics, badminton, basketball, bowling, and volleyball. Extramural clubs are organized on an honorary basis and include aquatics, modern dance, badminton, golf, riding, rifle marksmanship, tennis, and tumbling.”

In the early 1970s, intercollegiate athletics for women, along with physical education for women, was administratively a part of the School of Physical Education, Recreation and School Health Education in the College of Education, and men’s intercollegiate athletics was a separate department, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, reporting to a University Vice President (titles varied throughout the years).

In 1975, the University of Minnesota Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics, established by the Vice President for Institutional Planning and Relations to evaluate the University’s athletics programs in terms of compliance with Title IX guidelines of the 1972 Federal Education Act prohibiting sex discrimination at institutions receiving federal support, recommended that the men’s and women’s athletic directors “be equal in title and responsibility for their respective programs and that they report to the same persons.” The two separate departments, each lead by an athletics director, both began reporting to the Vice President for Institutional Planning and Relations during the 1975-1976 academic year.

In April 2002, the Board of Regents accepted the “President’s Athletics Financial Plan” to address financial problems within the two Intercollegiate Athletics Departments. The approved recommendations included merging Men’s and Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics into a single athletics department reporting to the Office of the President. The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics began operation with a new Athletics Director in August 2002.

In the 2010s, the University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics articulated its mission “to serve as a window to the University, in an environment of integrity and equity that enables student-athletes to achieve excellence in their academic and athletics pursuits,” its values to “demonstrate a daily commitment to a culture of compliance, diversity, equity, and fiscal responsibility” and to “respect, value, and recognize our people,” and its vision to “become a ‘model’ Division 1 program in the country.”

Leadership positions in athletics:

  1. Director, Physical Education for Men: Louis J. Cooke, 1897-1922
  2. Athletic Director: Henry L. Williams, 1900-1922
  3. Director, Physical Education and Athletics: Fred W. Luehring, 1922-1930; Herbert O. Crisler, 1930-1932; Frank G. McCormick, 1932-1950 (on leave 1944-1945); Louis F. Keller (Acting Director), 1944-1945; Isaac Armstrong, 1950-1963
  4. Director, Physical Education for Women: J. Anna Norris, 1912-1941; Gertrude M. Baker, 1941-1962; Eloise M. Jaeger, 1962-1972
  5. Director, Intercollegiate Athletics: Marshall W. Ryman, 1963-1971; Paul Giel, 1971-1975
  6. Director, Men’s Intercollegiate Athletics: Paul Giel, 1975-1988; Holger Christiansen (Acting Director), 1988; Rick Bay, 1988-1991; McKinley Boston, 1991-1995; Mark Dienhart, 1995-1999; Tom Moe, 1999-2002 (Interim Director, 1999-2000)
  7. Vice President for Student Development and Athletics: McKinley Boston, 1995-2000
  8. Director, Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics: Belmar Gunderson (Acting Director), 1975-1976; Vivian Barfield, 1976-1982 (on leave 1981-1982); Kate Mathison (Interim Director), 1981-1982; Merrily D. Baker, 1982-1988; Chris Voelz, 1988-2002
  9. Director, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics: Joel Maturi, 2002-2012


126.25 Cubic Feet (101 boxes)

University of Minnesota Athletics records, 1876-2012
Under Revision
Karen Spilman
September 2005; updated 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • September 2012: Collection processed by Rachel Thompson; EAD updated by Karen Spilman
  • 2022: Rosters, Schedules, and Statistics series added; listing of programs and media guides for various sports added

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area