The Case For Santa Clara Football
The Case For Santa Clara Football
A Jesuit's survey validates Pat Malley's longstanding claim
By Richard T. Coz, S.J.
Along with being a devoted football coach, the late Pat Malley was part Irish politician: He always referred to his players as "student-athletes."
For those of us Jesuits who live in the dorms, a 200-pound athlete is much more visible - and much more audible - than what we think of as a student. But along with Pat's other friends, we accepted his claim of "student-athletes" for what we thought it was a bit of political exaggeration - an excusable "Irishism."
When Pat died in 1985 and his former football players returned to campus to attend his Mass in the Mission Church, they appeared to be impressive men: strong in values, articulate, and educated. They had, in a word, class. As a Santa Clara Jesuit, I was proud. And Pat, I thought, had accomplished his boast: his alumni players were truly student-athletes.
Pat had realized from his own undergraduate experience at Santa Clara that athletics were part of the whole education package. He recruited players who had the potential to compete in the classroom as well as on the field, a potential which he worked to develop in them along with their athletic ability.
Although I recognized how successful Pat had been when I met his former players at his funeral, I thought Santa Clara could really use some factual information - statistics and the like - that would clearly support Pat's claim for the athletic program. So on my own I devised a questionnaire which I sent to all of Pat's players from the past 25 years.
Of the 320 who were sent the survey, 235 (73 percent) responded. I learned that 50 percent had gone on to do graduate work, and 50 percent were currently involved in parish and/or other community programs as volunteers.
By occupation I found that 12 percent are attorneys, 12 percent are in education, including five with Ph.D.'s; 10 percent are presidents, vice presidents, or owners of a business; and 5 percent are medical doctors or dentists. The figures on business executives may be misleading because it does not include engineers or certified public accountants who didn't indicate whether or not they were in business for themselves. I assumed they were not for this unofficial study.
Lest some wonder about the 27 percent who did not respond, I tracked down 20 percent of them, with the help of the Alumni Office and my own personal contacts, which brought the grand total to 90 percent. In the latest group I found the percentage of lawyers was slightly higher than it was among those who responded to the survey initially. All other percentages remained the same.
A major weakness in my questionnaire was that it didn't tell us how many former players would not have gone to Santa Clara - or even to college - if it hadn't been for the football program. It also didn't detail what influence their education had on their "level of aspiration."
I'm not certain that it would be possible to measure the significance of a football scholarship, a choice of Santa Clara over some other college, or the impact of Pat Malley's personality. But the study more than confirmed Pat's determined claim that his players were student-athletes.
Note: for those of you who would like to contact Fr. Coz, he is the chaplain at De La Salle High School in Concord, California. He can be reached at:
Fr. Richard Coz, S.J.
© 2008, Let Them Play Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization incorporated in the state of California. Not affiliated with Santa Clara University. Use of the words 'Santa Clara', 'Broncos', or other descriptions and accounts of Santa Clara Football are used solely within a fair use of same and is provided solely as a means of historical information and context to the public domain. All rights reserved.