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Secret mission Coded tabulations... national secrets in sealed envelopes... hidden microphones and electronic snafus... Could it be that Francis X. Fields, New York H&S partner, had become involved in a super spy thriller? "No such luck," says smiling Frank Fields. "Just another of the unusual and interesting situations H&S people get involved in from time to time." The mission, at the request of our long-time client, the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City, was to tabulate the results of the voting that would determine the winner of the 37th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Award. The award is presented each year to the outstanding college football player in the United States, as determined by the votes of sportswriters and sportscasters from all parts of the country. For the past thirty-six years, the tabulation had been made by members of the club's staff. But in order to insure complete secrecy, Haskins & Sells was engaged to tabulate the 1971 balloting. Ballots were sent to about 1,200 registered electors, who were asked to vote for a first, second and third choice. The football player with the greatest total number of points would be the winner of the award. The electors returned their ballots to five regional H&S offices. Ballots from the East were sent to principal John Tighe in New York; from the South to Atlanta, where partner Wayne Williamson and principal 0. Robert Gay supervised the collection; from the Southwest to principal Kenneth Nicholas in the Dallas office. The Chicago office handled the ballots from the Midwest, with Maurice Bax, assistant supervisor, report department, handling the collection; and principal Robin Gillies of the San Francisco office collected Far West ballots. The deadline was November 24, the day before Thanksgiving. On that day the results were sent, in code, to Frank Fields in New York, where he would make the final tabulation. Nearly a thousand ballots had been returned and Frank worked throughout the day compiling.the results. It wasn't until 11 p.m. that he finished, typing the results himself. It would appear that his mission was over, but Frank was to find that phase two of the assignment would be far more dramatic. For the first time, it was planned that the announcement of the Heisman winner would be made on live television. A number of changes in program scheduling made a shambles of the Fields' plans to dine out with friends on Thanksgiving Day. Reservations were changed three times before TV plans were formalized. The setting; ABC's studio in New York City. The time: halftime intermission of the Georgia/Georgia Tech football game on Thanksgiving evening.The participants: John Ott, president of the Downtown Athletic Club; Bud Palmer and Merle Harmon, ABC sportscasters; Heisman Committeeman Tom Scott; and Frank Fields, keeper of the secret. As a precaution in the unlikely event that he would not be able to get to the ABC studio, Frank gave John Tighe two envelopes (sealed with wax and still sealed at this time) containing the results of the balloting, with instructions that he would deliver them to the studio if summoned by the Heisman Committee. One envelope contained the name of the winner-the other the results of the balloting by region. Fortunately, this backup measure was not needed and Frank arrived at the studio two hours before show time, with his notes carefully prepared. He was immediately relieved by the studio's announcement that the program would be taped, allowing easy correction of mistakes or rough spots. This relief was short-lived, however, when it was announced that his part had to be live, and thus the secret would remain with him alone until the very instant the envelope would be opened in front of the television audience. S€EME Only a few minutes before the taped part of the program went on the air, technicians discovered that Frank's portable microphone wasn't working properly. Ironically, in an age of electronic miracles, the corrective action consisted of switching the battery on and off and jiggling the wires. Frank walked on stage to be greeted by sportscasters Bud Palmer and Merle Harmon, Downtown Athletic Club president John Ott, Tom Scott, about fifteen million television viewers and another surprise. Bud Palmer opened the live part of the show with a question that had not been asked in either of the rehearsals: "How does Haskins & Sells get involved in this?" Before that question could be answered, John Ott asked, "How do you do this?" Frank says that while he was searching for an answer the show appeared on the verge of an embarrassing lapse. Fortunately, everything turned out all right. The envelope was delivered, opened, and the secret was out: Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan had been voted the winner of the 37th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Award. From the very beginning of the 1971 football season, it was obvious to sports fans that the two outstanding candidates for the award were Pat Sullivan and running back Ed Marinaro of Cornell. The final tally showed 1,597 points for Sullivan and 1,445 for Marinaro. The closeness of the race and the broadcasting of the results on television for the first time created much discussion and controversy. "In view of this," said Frank Fields, "it appears that the decision of the Heisman Committee to retain independent public accountants to tabulate the ballots was a good one." And so ended "The Heisman Affair" - another first for Haskins & Sells. •
Fields, Frank X.
Tighe, John P.
Gay, O. Robert
Nicholas, Kenneth R.
Gillies, Robin M.
Beamer, Elmer G.
Evans, John E.
Haskins & Sells. New York Office
Haskins & Sells. Dallas Office
Haskins & Sells. Chicago Office
Haskins & Sells. San Francisco Office
Haskins & Sells. Cleveland Office
Deloitte, Plender, Haskins & Sells. Zurich Office
|Abstract||Illustration not included in the Web version.|
H&S Reports, Vol. 09, (1972 spring), p. 22-23
|Source||Originally published by: Haskins & Sells|
|Rights||Copyright and permission to republish held by: Deloitte|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|