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Ivy League

The Ivy League is a group of eight private universities in the northeastern United States (one of the eight, Cornell University, has a few state-supported academic departments). They are some of the oldest and most respected universities in the United States. First coined informally to refer to these schools which compete in both scholastics and sports, the term "Ivy League" also refers to the formal association of these schools in NCAA Division I athletic competition.

The members of the Ivy League are:

The term has connotations of academic excellence as well as a certain amount of elitism. They are sometimes affectionately referred to as The Ancient Eight.

The term "Ivy Plus" is sometimes used to refer to the eight plus Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University for purposes of alumni associations and university gatherings. However, the term "Ivy League" refers strictly to the original eight.


Caswell Adams of the New York Tribune made a passing comment about the schools in 1937, referring to the ivy growing on their walls. Stanley Woodward, a fellow sportswriter, coined the phrase in a column soon thereafter, informally dubbing the eight competitive universities the Ivy League, in advance of any formal sports league involving the schools.

In 1945 the athletic directors of the schools signed the first Ivy Group Agreement, which set academic, financial, and athletic standards for the football teams.

In 1954, the date generally accepted as the birth of the Ivy League, the agreement was extended to all sports.

An apocryphal etymology attributes the name to the Roman numerals for four (IV), incorrectly asserting that there was such a sports league originally with four members.

See also: Russell Group of Universities, Oxbridge

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