University of San Francisco Commemorates 60th Anniversary of Legendary Football Team

SAN FRANCISCO — (Oct. 3, 2011) The University of San Francisco (USF) proudly announces the 60th anniversary celebration of the legendary 1951 football team, taking place at USF on October 8. Many consider the 1951 football team the best in intercollegiate history: nine of its players were drafted directly into the National Football League, and three of those eventually were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The October 8 celebration at USF will include 21 members of the 1951 team, most notably, former NFL players Joe Scudero, Ralph Thomas, and Bob St. Clair, former San Francisco 49er and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In 1951, Americans still lived in a segregated society. Schools wouldn’t be racially integrated for three more years and hate crimes were rampant. Amidst this extreme and widespread racism, USF upheld their moral standings and Jesuit Catholic values, playing—and winning—with a racially mixed football team.

The USF Dons finished the 1951 season untied and undefeated. However, their perfect record wasn’t enough to get them invited to any post-season bowl games. Inferior, all-white teams were chosen over USF time and time again. Finally, the Orange bowl extended an invitation to the Dons—on the condition the team leave behind its two star African American players, Burl Toler and Ollie Matson. The team refused to succumb to the racism of the time, stood on principle, and rejected the offer—making themselves known as the football team that was “undefeated, untied, and uninvited.”

In 2005, the University conferred an honorary doctorate on its 1951 team. “We did not honor these men for what they did — which was significant; but for what they refused to do,” said USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J. “They refused to sacrifice human solidarity and personal integrity for promises of fame and fortune that too often distort the judgments and taint the lives of less substantive persons.”

“We are honored to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Dons Football team,” said Scott Sidwell, University of San Francisco’s athletic director. “This is a group that embodies the true spirit of the University of San Francisco, both on and off the field.  We look forward to welcoming back such great leaders and athletes to our campus.”

On Saturday, October 8, the celebration will begin with a morning Mass in Loyola Chapel at 10 a.m., followed by brunch in the Handlery Dining Room on USF’s Lone Mountain campus (2800 Turk Street, between Masonic and Parker). The brunch program will include reflections from Pro Football Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair, introduction of all the team members, remembering those who have passed, and viewing a commemorative video celebrating 60-years. Members of the media are invited to cover this monumental gathering. If interested, please contact Anne-Marie Devine at 415.422.2697 or abdevine@usfca.edu to RSVP and be added to the press list.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is in the heart of one of the most innovative and diverse cities and features a vibrant community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields while building a more humane and just world. University of San Francisco students, faculty, and alumni are involved in the entrepreneurial city of San Francisco and work in all industries, from technology to nonprofits. With dedicated professors and exceptional academic programs to choose from, the university offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional students the knowledge and skills needed to develop into ethical leaders who are sought after in their professions. USF’s diverse student body benefits from direct access to faculty, small class sizes, and a broad array of programs and co-curricular opportunities. Informed by the university’s 156-year-old Jesuit Catholic mission, the USF community ignites students’ passion for social justice and the pursuit of the common good. For more information about the University of San Francisco, please visit www.usfca.edu.