The President’s Advisory Committee on University History is inviting members of the University of Michigan community to provide feedback on the committee’s preliminary recommendation to remove Fielding H. Yost’s name from Yost Ice Arena.
The committee’s preliminary recommendation comes after a year of study by the panel of university historians. The request to remove the name was made by several members of the campus community through the university’s established process for reviewing historical names on buildings.
University community members have until June 7 to share feedback on the recommendation through a new online portal. A umich.edu email address is required to submit comments. Feedback also may be submitted by email or U.S. mail.
The committee completed an in-depth review of Yost’s tenure as head football coach and athletic director at the university from 1901-41. The report asserts that Yost’s contributions to U-M football and athletics were inequitably placed above the “profoundly deep and negative impact he had on people of color.”
A key fact in the recommendation is Yost’s role in benching famous African American football star Willis Ward in 1934 in response to a refusal by Georgia Tech to play Michigan at home if an African American were allowed to play. But the committee reported that this was symptomatic of larger racial problems in the athletic department while Yost served as coach and athletic director.
As coach of the Michigan football team from 1901-23, 1925 and 1926, Yost gained acclaim for his “point a minute” teams and laid the groundwork for the program’s winning tradition. As the university’s athletic director from 1921-41, Yost conceived and oversaw the building of Michigan Stadium. He retired in 1941 and died in Ann Arbor in 1946.
The Field House was named for Yost in 1923 based in part on a campaign led by the Michigan Daily. The facility was remodeled in 1973 and renamed Yost Ice Arena.
“We recommend unanimously that the name of Fielding H. Yost be removed from the Yost Ice Arena,” the committee’s preliminary report reads.
The committee indicated it is posting its preliminary summary of recommendations and the historical analysis online to collect feedback during an unusual year on the campus when many people were working and learning remotely.
An overall summary of the community’s feedback will be included as part of the committee’s final recommendation that will be shared with President Mark Schlissel. The president then has the authority to accept, reject or modify the committee’s recommendation. Only the Board of Regents has the authority to remove an honorific building name.