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From the Editor

The latest in sports—and this just in from 1970

The last time we put sports on the cover of Virginia Magazine was summer 2019, the “Wahoowow!” special issue. That was for just one national championship. This time we’re marking two—women’s swimming and men’s lacrosse.

Richard Gard

And not just those, but the individual national titles Wahoos commanded in women’s tennis and women’s track. Along the way, women’s soccer made a run at the College Cup, baseball crashed the College World Series and more than a dozen Cavaliers competed in the Tokyo Olympics.

That’s quite a comeback considering where sports stood a little more than a year ago, which was at a standstill. Full stop.

That was summer 2020, when our cover captured the stark mood in infrared, depicting UVA “Semestering in Place.” Suffice it to say we’re delighted to replace monochrome with color, still life with action. 

You think we’re delighted, imagine how Athletics Director Carla Williams feels. As you’ll read in Associate Editor Ed Miller’s piece, she’s practically doing backflips, or at least cannonballs.

Consider, too, the legend of nice-guy James Rector (Law 1909), UVA’s first Olympic medalist. Leo Durocher famously said that nice guys finish last. For Rector, that’s not entirely true. Then again, his legend might not be either. See what you think.

Surprise Witness

In our last issue, this column highlighted the telegram scandal, my story on the Alumni Association’s attempt in May 1970 to deescalate antiwar protests on Grounds by sending an urgent and soon resented message to everyone’s parents. 

After he read it, Charles W. Hurt (Med ’54), a prominent local alumnus then and now, called me with a stunning revelation. “It was my idea to send the telegram,” he said, and then shared his recollection.

On the Friday, maybe Thursday, of a notoriously dramatic week of protests, Gilbert J. “Gilly” Sullivan (Com ’48), the association’s executive director, convened an emergency meeting of local alumni and a few faculty stalwarts, two dozen in all. He had them rendezvous at the Boar’s Head Inn, fearing, reasonably or not, that protesters could breach Alumni Hall. Sullivan wanted the group to contact students and plead for calm.

Hurt spoke up. They would never be able to reach enough students, and parents had the greater influence anyway. The upcoming Sunday was Mother’s Day, when students were sure to phone home. What if, by the time they did, Mom, Dad and whoever else had benefit of a message from the Alumni Association, sent via Western Union?

Hurt says D. French Slaughter Jr. (Col ’49, Law ’53), the association’s board chairman, assigned him and someone else to draft the message then and there. Hurt doesn’t recall his co-author but, contrary to what the story posited, it wasn’t Slaughter, whose name appeared in the body of the text as the sender.

Says Hurt, “I always felt like it was a great success because no buildings were burned down.”

Richard Gard (Col ’81)
Vice President, Communications, UVA Alumni Association