Assessing the Carnegie Report
While the Carnegie Foundation may have overstated the recruiting violations that went on at Michigan , the letters it cited undoubtedly showed that some system of illegal recruiting did exist, and that certain athletes were given favorable treatment. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the University of Michigan often pointed out that illegal recruiting was a nationwide problem, but it never acknowledged that the same problem existed at U-M.
The 1929 Carnegie Report and the university’s response represented a clash of two deeply motivated parties in a period of rapid change. The Carnegie Foundation was motivated by its dedication to education; the foundation saw enormous football profits as a threat to higher education and student athlete amateurism. U-M and its Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics, on the other hand, saw their recruiting practices as consistent with the values of amateurism. They felt that U-M adhered to this principle better than other schools, especially since the Western Conference had stricter regulations than any other collegiate conference. To the University, the financial success of athletics allowed the U-M to improve athletics for all students; it was not threatening education.
While the Carnegie Foundation report generated headlines and put many universities on the defensive, the document ultimately did not succeed in reforming college athletics. The report did not result in new regulations, nor did it lead to any university sanctions. The report was forgotten after its publication in 1929. Many of the offenses identified by the foundation, however, eventually became common practice as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) gradually loosened restrictions from the 1960s onward.