Football entered the athletic scene of the college about the same time as baseball. (Our sources start in 1879, and so it is impossible to date their entry exactly.) The student editors could not find anything more original to say in November 1879 than Football is all the rage now. Skinned shins, bruised heels, and torn shirts tell the story of the fierce conflicts. (Football then closely resembled rugby.) It is difficult to tell whether this refers to the introduction of the game to the college in that year, or merely to a seasonal reappearance. If bandy were the game played throughout the autumn of 1878, then the former hypothesis is likely. These seem to have been pickup football games. Organized teams probably did not appear until the late 1880s or 1890s.
The earliest hint of football in the minutes of the trustees is a passing reference in 1887, when the students petitioned for certain improvements in the Campus connected with the Foot-Ball grounds. The motion was referred to the secretary and treasurer, Richard Irby, for action. If there was an organized team, it could not have been much before 1891, for in that year the faculty gave permission for one away game with Richmond College. This schedule of one game would suggest that the program was in its infancy. In 1892, it appears that no games were played by a school team, and on October 10, 1893, two games-one home, the other away-were allowed against Richmond College.
On October 20, 1893, the faculty granted Concessions to Athletics by permitting four games with other college teams, but each one had to be approved specifically by the faculty. After 1893, football is regularly played. The football team had its own coach (called a Trainer), who was not an employee of the school; presumably, if he was paid at all, it was by students and alumni.
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Reprinted from Professor James Scanlon's Randolph-Macon College: A Southern History 1825-1967