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On this day in February, 1958, Cornell sports faced a reckoning as the results of an academic performance audit became public. Nearly every athletic team was affected by academic probation limitations on players, to a higher degree than ever in the past.
The challenge of balancing athletic and classroom commitments was not a new one to the Cornell campus in 1958. Multiple athletes had departed the school in the 1950s after struggling to keep up with high academic standards, only to go on to major football programs in Michigan State and Duquesne, on the way to the NFL. Academics had proven to stifle the talents of certain athletes. One star, Pat Burke on the football team, left Cornell due to academic issues and went on to Michigan State where he assumed positions as senior class president and captain of the talented division I football team there. He was later signed by the New York Giants.
Despite the blow to Cornell athletics caused by athletes condemned to academic probation, schools across the country made no move to lower the standards of academic performance. At the same time, schools on the West Coast, including Stanford, University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, voted against allowing full-ride athletic scholarships for potential recruits.