Stanford University is not an Ivy League university (THES, January 17). The Ivy League traces its origins to 1943 when the presidents of eight elite universities on East Coast of the United States met to work out an agreement for their football teams to play each other on an annual basis while maintaining academic standards.
Discussions continued until 1954 when Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and Princeton formed the Ivy League. Since college football was then becoming less a matter of sport and more a commercial business, this marked a significant step against the professionalisation of college sports.
The Ivy League now covers all collegiate sports and although the eight universities are the most academically prestigious in the US they continue to be competitive nationally in many sports. Penn and Princeton compete regularly in the national basketball championship, while Ivy League teams dominate such sports as lacrosse, rowing, archery and hockey.
Simon Baatz School of English and American Studies, University of Sussex.