Duke Basketball

"Cap" Card (left) with Trinity
students, ca. 1901

Duke sports fans have developed a special fondness for the early Spring. "March Madness" is peculiar to television and the NCAA and ACC tournaments, but intercollegiate competition in the state began years ago with enthusiastic participation by Trinity College. The initiator at Trinity was Wilbur Wade "Cap" Card for whom Card Gymnasium is named.


In 1906 basketball was a relatively new sport. It had been invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a YMCA director in Springfield, Massachusetts, who sought an indoor activity during the harsh New England winter. It spread more quickly through the YMCA movement than among colleges where football and baseball reigned supreme.

Many thought the sport an "impracticable game" that would never attain popularity, especially in the South, but Trinity's Card advocated it. A native of nearby Franklinton, N. C., Card graduated from Trinity College in 1900, and upon choosing athletics for a career, sought the best training available in hygiene and physical education at Harvard University. After a year of academic study, he returned to Harvard every summer through 1913 to train and work at the famed Sargent Normal School of Physical Education. While at his first job as director of the Mobile, Alabama YMCA, Card received an invitation from President John C. Kilgo to return to his alma mater as Director of a new program in physical education.

The Early History of Duke Basketball More Reading

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