XV
The Athletic Program
As recounted in Chapter III, the Wake Forest athletic program was
sharply curtailed during World War II, with football the only
intercollegiate sport to be fielded throughout the period of hostilities.
Coaches D. C. "Peahead" Walker and Murray Greason joined their
efforts to keep that sport alive, with rather remarkable results.
Basketball was resumed somewhat tentatively in 1944-45 and more
seriously the next year, with Greason as coach. He also resurrected
baseball in the spring of 1946, with twelve games scheduled against
Big Four rivals Duke, State, and Carolina. In time Wake Forest
developed a more comprehensive athletic program than it had ever
had before, fielding teams not only in golf, tennis, and track but in
swimming and wrestling as well. Conference regulations also dictated
the formation of freshman teams, with notable successes in football
and basketball.
It cannot be said that in the late forties or during the Tribble years,
Wake Forest became an athletic power. It did, indeed, establish a golf
dynasty that could compete successfully at the national level, in large
part through the play of Arnold Palmer as a student and his generous
support of the Wake Forest program in his professional years. There
were high moments in football, basketball, and baseball, with some
truly excellent athletes who won national and All-American honors.
As football floundered under a rapid succession of head coaches,
basketball prospered under Greason and several brilliant successors
and produced winning combinations more consistently. Over the span
of the years, Wake Forest was often a contender in all of its sports
programs but seemed destined usually to be an also-ran.
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