Answered By: David Cort
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2015     Views: 35

There are a few different theories, but the consensus is that the phrase started to be used by sportswriters and appear in print in the 1930's. Stanley Woodward of the New York Herald-Tribune is usually credited with starting to use "ivy colleges" in 1933 to refer to the current eight schools, plus Army and Navy.  Associated Press sports editor Alan Gould used the exact phrase "Ivy League" in 1935, and, later in the same year, the Herald-Tribune started to print "standings" for the invented "Ivy Conference."

The name caught on and started to be used by the schools themselves, so that by 1945, there was an agreement governing football at the eight colleges (Army and Navy no longer being included) known as the Ivy Group Agreement. The official birth of the Ivy League as an athletic association came in 1954 when the presidents of the colleges extended the agreement to cover all intercollegiate sports.

                                          see: Football : the Ivy League origins of an American obsession

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