Campus replay 1950s

Basketball is king at Marquette. But in the 1950s, football was also royal, at intercollegiate and intramural levels.

The Golden Avalanche played intercollegiate football from 1892–1960, from the presidency of Benjamin Harrison through the election of John F. Kennedy. From 1924–56, home field was Marquette Stadium, located at North 36th and West Clybourn streets. The stadium even hosted a few Green Bay Packers games.

The Avalanche appeared in the nation’s first Cotton Bowl, held in Dallas on New Year’s Day 1937. The team lost 16-6 to Texas Christian University, which was led by future NFL legend Sammy Baugh, who was inducted into pro football’s Hall of Fame in 1963.

In the 1950s, the Avalanche struggled, posting just 10 wins after its final winning season in 1953. But that didn’t dampen the student experience. “It was always really exciting,” says Peter Gariti, Jour ’56, of the football games at Marquette Stadium. “We played some national teams like Michigan State.”

Football also provided a great date night. Gariti met his wife, Betty (Coady) Gariti, Sp ’57, at Marquette. They have been married for 57 years. “My wife would stay warm under the bleachers,” he says.

Gariti was a member of the professional journalism society Sigma Delta Chi, which fielded a squad of Marquette’s aspiring journalists — many went on to earn big bylines. Gariti played center for the team (above) in an all-Greek intramural league. Says Gariti of the squad that included future chairman and CEO of E.W. Scripps Co. William (Bill) Burleigh, Jour ’57, and future Marquette Vice President for University Relations James Sankovitz, Jour ’56: “We weren’t much as football players, but we had some interesting people.” — PL


  1. There were very competitive touch football games between the fraternities at that time. Many of the Marquette football players were members of the frats. I was a member of Sigma Phi Delta and enjoyed the competition.

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