Reading wildcatreport.com this morning I ran across this thread which included a link to the list of Helms Foundation Basketball National Champions. The list revealed Northwestern won the 1931 National Championship with a record of 16-1. Now, it should be noted no tournament was played in 1931, nor actually did the Helms Foundation team of experts vote the Wildcats national champs until 1939. However, other schools claim the National Titles that the Helms Foundation retroactively awarded. Purdue for example lists their 1932 team as NCAA Champs in their media guide based on the Helms foundation vote. In the wildcatreport.com thread linked above, poster NUWildcats writes some great thoughts which I agree with strongly. The fact that Northwestern doesn’t list this team as a National Champion when other schools who won titles under the same circumstances do so is perplexing. Yes, I know some people might laugh at a national title which is awarded almost 80 years later, but as I wrote yesterday, we should acknowledge our school’s past successes no matter when they occurred. Also, the fact is the title was awarded in 1939, Northwestern just needs to take the steps to acknowledge the correctness of that vote.
Now, I don’t know if any members of the 1931 team would be able to attend a ceremony in which a banner was raised at Welsh-Ryan, but I’m sure their families would very much appreciate the acknowledgment of the effort and accomplishments put fourth by their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Also, as a Northwestern fan I would be proud to see Northwestern recognize what is a historical high for the program. Yes, it is tremendously embarrassing that Northwestern has never been to the NCAA Tournament and some might bring that up as we honored our long lost National Champs, but true sports fans would understand and appreciate the significance of an accurate historical record. Speaking of that record, here is the full list of Helms Foundation National Champs. You can see Coach Dutch Lonborg’s Wildcats listed as champs in 1931.
Yesterday, Northwestern changed a football record from 1903 to award that Wildcat team 10 wins. If that record can be changed, the National Title awarded Lonborg’s team can be acknowledged in Northwestern’s basketball media materials and inside Welsh-Ryan Arena. So, I ask NU fans and staff members to consider the possibility that the 2009-2010 season Northwestern can not only make its first NCAA Tournament appearance, but add a national title—perhaps, if we really want to dream, even two.