Michigan, Northwestern to Play for Trophy Honoring George Jewett

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2021

A small number of athletes' invited guests from Michigan and Wisconsin watch in an otherwise empty Michigan Stadium at the kickoff of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Tony Ding/Associated Press

The football rivalry between Michigan and Northwestern has been given added stakes with the creation of the George Jewett Trophy. 

Per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, the two Big Ten teams will begin playing for the trophy named after the conference's first Black player starting in 2021. 

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel issued a statement about the creation of the George Jewett Trophy, via Rittenberg:

“We are proud to partner with our peer institution, Northwestern, to recognize and honor an African American pioneer in George Jewett. George achieved at a high level as an athlete and doctor.

“His hard work and effort let to success not only for himself, but for those who would follow a similar path after him. His excellence at two Big Ten institutions as a student, athlete and citizen is something we want our current student-athletes to aspire to during their collegiate experience."

Jewett played fullback for two seasons in 1890 and 1892 at Michigan before transferring to Northwestern in 1893. 

Per Michigan's official website, Jewett "ran afoul of Medical Dean Victor Vaughn who insisted he could not play football and attend Medical School." That ultimately led to him attending Northwestern, where he played for two years and earned a medical degree. 

Jewett was the first Black player to receive a varsity letter from Michigan and Northwestern during his time at both institutions. He died in 1908 at the age of 38. 

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Northwestern and Michigan are scheduled to play at Michigan Stadium in Oct. 23.