One of the most common questions we receive as a new Football Club at Oakland University is: "How did you get football approved!?" This question is referring to the age old myth surrounding contact sports and Matilda Dodge Wilson, the former owner of the Meadowbrook Mansion, and owner of the land that eventually became known as Oakland University.
Word of mouth myth usually states that when Wilson's property was signed over via a charter, contract, paperwork, land grant, (insert your own document word here) to become a college campus, Matilda Dodge Wilson put a rider, clause, provision, restriction, (insert your own disclaimer word here) that there would never be contact sports at Oakland University. Never ever. Or so the story goes.
This story has been rampant on campus since 1957. Although it is one of the most popular campus legends, it is nothing more than a myth. To provide evidence on this fact, we cite a December 1st 2009 Oakland Post newspaper article titled Grizzlies on the Gridiron? The age old question of an OU football program is revisited:
The Football Club at Oakland University wholeheartedly celebrates our campus with respect and admiration for our rich history, including the Meadowbrook Mansion and Matilda Dodge Wilson. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members are quick to mention the "no contact sports / Matilda Wilson" myth in conversation soon after they hear of the existence of our new football club. We respectfully explain how the "no contact sports" story is simply campus folklore and not fact. Part of our mission as a football club is to quietly and delicately expel this myth from campus.
Where might this myth have started? We can only speculate. There may be some clues in the campus history. Oakland University was originally a satellite campus of Michigan State. At that time, it was an academic only campus, i.e. no sports whatsoever. The curriculum was said to be extremely difficult, and employed professors of ivy league stature. As this campus became OU as we know it, and amenities for students became a demand to compete with other universities, OU slowly started adding varsity sports. The Football Club at Oakland University is a Club Sport underneath the Club & Rec Sports department.