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  • Cromwell Field renamed

    USC's track facility has been named after the great Dean Cromwell since it opened in - maybe the early 80s. The stadium itself later added the name of a school donor while maintaining the Cromwell Field name for the track and infield..
    Well, yesterday, the field was renamed after Allison Felix. I know Felix has many fans here, me not being among them, but it seems uncool to throw a legend like Cromwell under the bus in favor of someone who never even wore the USC uniform.

  • #2
    Originally posted by cigar95 View Post
    I know Felix has many fans here, me not being among them
    Well that answers any questions.

    I think it's fine. Things change and I'm certain more people (especially those actually running/working there now) are familiar with Felix, not Cromwell.

    Also, Cromwell doesn't exactly have a squeaky clean history...

    Comment


    • #3
      It does seem odd, but I'm sure they have their reasons. Given her events, perhaps it would have been more appropriate to name the facility Felix Track and Cromwell Field at Loker Stadium.

      On a side note, I've always wondered how she earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education from a university that offers no such degree. Not at all suggesting that she didn't do the required academic work, just wonder what it was.

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      • #4
        At least Felix Sanchez can sort of pretend that it's named in his honor.

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        • #5
          I'll address the Cromwell side of this-- I've always found the USC Track team's desire to fete Allyson Felix a little strange, given she declined to run for USC, but that's longstanding and I really don't have a lot to add there.

          But Cromwell had to go. The issues relating to the Marty Glickman/Sam Stoller 1936 Olympics story have always been murky, and while it's clear something happened (there's video of Jesse Owens on the boat for Germany saying how he was looking forward to winning "3 gold medals", indicating he didn't think at that time he would be running in the relay), exactly WHAT happened isn't really clear and Marty Glickman was always a somewhat unreliable narrator and changed his story several times on what DID happen. So I think Cromwell could have survived if it had been just that.

          But it wasn't just that. People who were concerned about the 1936 story started researching Cromwell, and they turned up some other stuff that basically made his position impossible. First, Cromwell wrote a book about coaching track and field in the 1940's in which he posited that Black athletes were better than white athletes because they were more primitive. That's really bad.

          Even worse, it turns out that after the 1936 Olympics, Cromwell, who had been one of the assistant coaches of the track team, went on a speaking tour. He spoke at 1 or more gatherings of American Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, and at one of them he praised Hitler specifically. And even worse than that, it turns out this was a controversy at the time, and there was actually a public protest organized by Jewish organizations in Los Angeles seeking to get Cromwell sacked, and the school received numerous letters and telegrams calling for his removal.

          Given that, there's just no way his name could stay on the facility. You could see it coming because the USC Athletic Department referred to it more and more just as Loker Stadium and didn't mention Cromwell in its news releases and materials. Eventually, they decided this was a good way to honor Felix and took his name off.

          I should say that I don't like having to say any of this. My late father admired Cromwell enormously both as a coach and as a racantour, and wrote a glowing obituary of him when Cromwell died in the 1960's. My father knew nothing of Cromwell's racism and anti-Semitism. But in 2023, you just can't have major facilities at major urban universities named after people who spoke before Nazi sympathizers and praised Hitler or who compared Black athletes to savages. This was a no-brainer.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Merner521 View Post
            At least Felix Sanchez can sort of pretend that it's named in his honor.
            There is a stadium named in his honor: Estadio Olímpico​ Félix Sánchez.
            Last edited by Davidokun; 01-19-2023, 08:16 PM. Reason: Nitpicking

            Comment


            • #7
              Excellent explanation Dilan, and you are correct to say that you could see it coming.

              In 2019, the university set up a task force to address facility names that invoke views of the past that are no longer acceptable today. It did not specifically reference Cromwell when they announced the task force, but the following 2020 LA Times analysis about the initiative does.

              Weeks after USC removed the name of Rufus Von KleinSmid, some are raising questions about a host of names and symbols on campus, examining whether they too should be purged at this historic moment of reckoning.
              Last edited by wamego relays champ; 01-19-2023, 08:41 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Dilan Esper View Post
                I'll address the Cromwell side of this-- I've always found the USC Track team's desire to fete Allyson Felix a little strange, given she declined to run for USC, but that's longstanding and I really don't have a lot to add there.

                But Cromwell had to go. The issues relating to the Marty Glickman/Sam Stoller 1936 Olympics story have always been murky, and while it's clear something happened (there's video of Jesse Owens on the boat for Germany saying how he was looking forward to winning "3 gold medals", indicating he didn't think at that time he would be running in the relay), exactly WHAT happened isn't really clear and Marty Glickman was always a somewhat unreliable narrator and changed his story several times on what DID happen. So I think Cromwell could have survived if it had been just that.

                But it wasn't just that. People who were concerned about the 1936 story started researching Cromwell, and they turned up some other stuff that basically made his position impossible. First, Cromwell wrote a book about coaching track and field in the 1940's in which he posited that Black athletes were better than white athletes because they were more primitive. That's really bad.

                Even worse, it turns out that after the 1936 Olympics, Cromwell, who had been one of the assistant coaches of the track team, went on a speaking tour. He spoke at 1 or more gatherings of American Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, and at one of them he praised Hitler specifically. And even worse than that, it turns out this was a controversy at the time, and there was actually a public protest organized by Jewish organizations in Los Angeles seeking to get Cromwell sacked, and the school received numerous letters and telegrams calling for his removal.

                Given that, there's just no way his name could stay on the facility. You could see it coming because the USC Athletic Department referred to it more and more just as Loker Stadium and didn't mention Cromwell in its news releases and materials. Eventually, they decided this was a good way to honor Felix and took his name off.

                I should say that I don't like having to say any of this. My late father admired Cromwell enormously both as a coach and as a racantour, and wrote a glowing obituary of him when Cromwell died in the 1960's. My father knew nothing of Cromwell's racism and anti-Semitism. But in 2023, you just can't have major facilities at major urban universities named after people who spoke before Nazi sympathizers and praised Hitler or who compared Black athletes to savages. This was a no-brainer.
                Yes, but it took USC way too long. All of this mud all over Cromwell did not come to light last week. This reflects very poorly on USC as an institution that has made millions off Black athletes. Since Allyson Felix did not compete for USC what would the University done if she politely declined the honor? Name it after O J?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cigar95 View Post
                  USC's track facility has been named after the great Dean Cromwell since it opened in - maybe the early 80s. The stadium itself later added the name of a school donor while maintaining the Cromwell Field name for the track and infield..
                  Well, yesterday, the field was renamed after Allison Felix. I know Felix has many fans here, me not being among them, but it seems uncool to throw a legend like Cromwell under the bus in favor of someone who never even wore the USC uniform.
                  Cromwell might be a legend in some peoples eyes...so are all those Confederate generals whose statues have been removed. Cromwell should have been removed years ago.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dilan Esper View Post
                    I'll address the Cromwell side of this-- I've always found the USC Track team's desire to fete Allyson Felix a little strange, given she declined to run for USC, but that's longstanding and I really don't have a lot to add there.
                    Dilan there's one more bit to add, and it's the thing that's stuck in my craw for years.
                    Felix came out of high school as the bluest of blue chip recruits. So scoring her commitment was a great catch for Ron Allice.
                    So Felix signs with USC. And a few weeks later turns pro, before ever suiting up.
                    Problem is, she had already signed - which means she had just burned a scholarship and left Ron holding the bag with nothing. At a school like USC, a track scholarship is probably the most precious resource a track coach has. And Ron was left with one that he now couldn't use.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SoCal45 View Post

                      Yes, but it took USC way too long. All of this mud all over Cromwell did not come to light last week. This reflects very poorly on USC as an institution that has made millions off Black athletes. Since Allyson Felix did not compete for USC what would the University done if she politely declined the honor? Name it after O J?
                      Other than the Glickman/Stoller thing, which as I said is VERY murky, a lot of this really didn't turn up until 2019 or 2020. Yes, someone could have looked it up earlier, but I am unaware that anyone did. And once it turned up, I can assure you that everyone in the USC Track Community realized it was only a matter of time before they renamed the facility. They had to go through a process, decide who to rename the facility for, talk to stakeholders about it, etc. In the meantime they deemphasized Cromwell's name as best they could. But this took about the amount of time you would expect something like this to take.

                      Now, if you want to talk about USC's institutional responsibility, the real failures were back in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. There was a letter writing campaign and a public protest over tangible allegations that Cromwell was an anti-Semite, and USC... ignored it and kept him on as track coach all the way through 1948, and utilized him as a sort of ambassador for the university thereafter. (For instance, he appeared on Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" television show.) If the system was working properly, Cromwell would have been ushered out at the time.

                      OJ, by the way, is himself an interesting subject. For a long time, the athletic department pretended nothing had happened. I was at a football game in the late 1990's where they honored Al Cowlings, who of course attempted to help OJ flee the country after the murders. OJ's number was retired and an oversized depiction of his jersey was displayed under the Coliseum peristyle, his Sports Illustrated covers (including the one from 1994 relating to the murders!) were listed in the football program as an accomplishment of USC football, he came and gave an inspirational speech to one of Pete Carroll's teams in Florida before the Orange Bowl, and they put his picture up in the Scholarship Tower they built at the LA Coliseum. It's only very very recently that the USC athletic department has finally decided that Simpson needed to be memory-holed.

                      I love a lot of things about USC, but the school doesn't always show the best judgment about things like this.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Your 2nd paragraph is what I am referring to. No excuse for that.

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                        • #13
                          Excellent stuff, Dilan, many thanks!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Davidokun View Post
                            It does seem odd, but I'm sure they have their reasons. Given her events, perhaps it would have been more appropriate to name the facility Felix Track and Cromwell Field at Loker Stadium.

                            On a side note, I've always wondered how she earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education from a university that offers no such degree. Not at all suggesting that she didn't do the required academic work, just wonder what it was.
                            Davidokun, I think that is a matter of semantics. In California almost no one has elementary education certification/degree as the license has been titled "Multiple Subjects Certification" for many years now and the corresponding degrees and testing bear all kinds of names and acronyms. People often lump it all together by calling the category/name/major "Elementary Education" (versus Secondary Education- which in California also doesn't exist.. it is called Single Subject Certification). I agree there's no way she has a USC Diploma stamped with the words Elementary Education (It probably just says Bachelor of Arts), what she probably has is a transcript with coursework lumped under some innocuous title like Liberal Arts or General Studies. USC is famous for it's creative degree names, constant changes of programs within schools and departments, always coming up with something "new" which is a repackage, etc. (I'm alumni from the 80's and my department/major no longer exists in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences... but it's all still there with a 21st century new name in a different school : )
                            Last edited by DET59; 01-19-2023, 11:25 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Grudges don't fade away easily, it seems...

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