After the consolidation of the University in 1920, an interest developed among letter winners to encourage excellence in athletics by forming a monogram club. The M Club was founded in April 1923. It’s eight founders were:
- Dr. H. C. “Curley” Byrd (’08, Football, Track),
- Dr. William B. Kemp (’12, Track),
- George F. Pollock (’23, Baseball),
- H. Burton Shipley (“14 Basketball),
- Geary F. Eppley (“20, Track),
- Reginald V. Truitt (“14, Lacrosse),
- Burton Ford (“16, Tennis), and
- William G. Morris (“14, Football).
Dr. Byrd was named our first President. He appointed Dr. Kemp as the Chairman of an Organization Committee consisting of the other six founders who represented the six varsity sports existing in 1923. They were charged with completing organization plans and drafting a proposed Constitution and By-Laws.
The Committee completed a draft Constitution and By-Laws in the Fall and at the M Club’s organization meeting on November 12, 1923, there were 100 letter winners present out of a possible 250 members. Annual membership dues were set at $1, and the members adopted a Constitution and By-Laws. The objective of the 1923 Constitution stressed:
- promotion of amateurism,
- courtesy and fair play by the athletes,
- hosting officials and guests, and
- spectator decorum.
It also emphasized the importance of athletics in the development of the individual, and encouragement of all students to participate in well regulated competition and the physical education program.
University of Maryland – The M Club Story
90 Years of Athletes Helping Athletes
In September 1996, then President Jonathan Claiborne appointed me as the M Club’s historian and asked me to prepare a history of our organization. It was later decided that I would try to complete this history soon after our 75th anniversary in 1998.
It is important to note that the M Club is the fourth oldest letter winner organization, founded in April 1923 by the legendary Dr. H.C. “Curley” Byrd. Since then we have proven to be a national role model for countless other university letter winners clubs.
In researching our history, I relied most heavily on a review of the minutes of the trustee’s meetings, our annual financial reports, the Sports Awards Banquet programs, and the many M Club publications, most particularly the “Voice of the Turtle” edited by Van Sigworth. Very useful also was Dean Geary Eppley’s outline of the birth of the M Club prepared for the 1973 banquet program, and Jay Phillips’ “55 Years of Pride and Tradition” produced for the 1978 program.
Most helpful, however, in completing our history was a document prepared by our first executive director, Al Heagy, and our office manager, Mary DuVall. It was entitled, “A Summary of the M Club: 1923-1978.” This document provided detailed background information on the M Club’s many activities, including our founding, constitution and by-laws, business meetings, finances, scholarship programs, publications and promotions.
After reviewing all of this material, it seemed best to record our history chronologically. In this way, the reader can follow the steady rise of the M Club as it happened. You also can observe the actions initiated by the numerous volunteer letterwinners who are primarily responsible for the success of this great organization.
I also ask you to review the many appendices attached to this report. They include very important historical information such as: a chronological summary of our major actions (Appendix A); a list of our former presidents and other key officers (Appendices B and C); a complete list of all Board of Trustee members (Appendix D); our total assets by year (Appendix E); our annual scholarship aid (Appendix F); details of every Sports Awards Banquet, together with the names of selected award winners (Appendix G); a complete list of inductees into the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame (Appendix I); and a current list of dues payers and life members (Appendix N).
During our history, the M Club has achieved many major accomplishments. Several of them that come readily to mind include: we founded Homecoming in 1923; we started the University’s first athletic scholarship program in 1930 which has assisted thousands of deserving athletes; we were instrumental in founding the Terrapin Club; we founded both the State of Maryland and the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame; we became a voting member of the Athletic Council; we sponsored the premier Athletic Department event for honoring the exceptional academic and athletic achievements of our letter winners and coaches; we organized financially successful promotions and investment programs, enabling us to support our scholarship/awards program and helping to modernize our athletic facilities; we produced a solid promotions program, initiated by George Knepley, that included bringing two NCAA Final Four basketball tournaments to Cole Field House; and founded the superb Len Rodman Celebrity Golf Tournament which has raised over $800,000 for athletic scholarships.
I am hesitant to try to list the many long-time supporters who have donated their skills to contribute to the success of the M Club. It is sufficient to say that their names can be found in the chronological history that follows, and in Appendices B and C, which identify all of our president’s, key officers and office managers.
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t single out Al Heagy, our first executive director. For over 50 years Al was the dominant figure in the growth and development of the M Club. His leadership and sound judgment was responsible for guiding the M Club to its present level of prominence and success. Also, I am grateful for the constructive suggestions made by Jack Heise and Logan Schutz after reviewing my final draft of this history.
Historian, – M Club Foundation, Inc.