President’s Day, which was originally established in 1885 to recognize President George Washington, is now popularly celebrated to recognize all current and former U.S. presidents. For more than 220 years the U.S. has rotated through leaders, and while it has never been a requirement, a number of U.S. presidents has participated in some way with college sports.
So, to honor the POTUS position, here is a look at some of the former presidents' impact on college athletics:
While Teddy Roosevelt didn’t compete as part of any collegiate teams, he actually had a large hand in the formation of the NCAA, according to The Sports Historian. Football was just beginning to pick up popularity in U.S. colleges, but many colleges began dropping the sport due to the dangerous nature of the game at the time. When Harvard’s president called to abolish the game at Roosevelt’s alma mater, he decided to step in. His intervention eventually led to a reform movement, which brought about the creation of the Inter Collegiate Athletic Association to enforce rules in college athletics. The group changed its name to the NCAA in 1910. Each year, the NCAA gives out The Theodore Roosevelt Award to a distinguished citizen of national reputation and outstanding accomplishment. To be eligible the recipient must have graduated from an NCAA member institution and earned a varsity athletics award, or participated in competitive intercollegiate athletics.
William Howard Taft
While Wilson only attended Davidson for a year before transferring to Princeton, he was able to squeeze onto the baseball team to play during his freshman year.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Kennedy, while attending Harvard, spent time on the Harvard football team. But, he wasn’t exactly great at it, according to The Harvard Crimson, so he joined the swim team.
Gerald R. Ford
The 40th President of the United States enrolled at Eureka College in Illinois in 1928. The school reports that he lettered three times while playing guard for the football team. However, he was also known for being the college’s leading swimmer and a star member of the track team.
George H.W. Bush
"I guess playing in the first two College World Series also stands out as being special," said Bush in an exchange of emailed questions and answers with Yale Athletics. "We had a wonderful coach in Ethan Allen and some terrific pitching in Frank Quinn and Walt Gratham. I can't say I contributed much on offense, but it was a heck of a ride nonetheless."