THE late Dr. Regino Ylanan, director of UP's Physical Education never thought that his idea to set athletic policies among tertiary institutions of his era would pave the way for the creation of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
In the summer of 1924, Dr. Ylana took to task such idea by inviting several institutions to participate in the organization of such athletic association.
Those who accepted Ylanan's invitation were the University of Santo Tomas (UST), National University (NU), De La Salle College and the Institute of Accounts (forerunner of the Far Eastern University).
A week after its initial meeting, the group drafted and then approved the constitution and by-laws of the organization to form what became the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Perhaps due to its larger student population, the universities dominated the inter-school competitions.
In 1930, the NCAA board of directors decided to file papers of incorporation with the then Bureau of Commerce.
UP felt that the move would lead to commercialism when in fact it is a public institution. The same sentiment was shared by UST and NU.
Thus before the start of the 1930-1931 season, UP, UST and NU sought permission from the NCAA that they would form a triangular meet. This was approved by the NCAA board with the condition that the NCAA's scheduled events would have the first crack in the use of sports facilities. UST's Dionisio Calvo, NU's Leon Tirol and UP's Prof. Candido Bartolome signed the article of agreement.
Known as the Big Three, the group experimented by imposing the home and home format which prove to be a success. Thus, on April 6, 1932, the article of agreement was renewed.
With the initial success of the tournament, the Big Three decided to pull away from the NCAA where it continued to operate on the next six years. Going into its seventh year, the State University's board of directors of the Alumni Association suggested to then UP President Jorge Bocobo that a new inter-university association be formed.
UP, being the spark plug of this new league, took the reins of leadership. Together with the representatives of UST and NU along with FEU, already a rising power in sports, they met at the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF) office. So on September 27, 1938; the UAAP was established.
Events included in the UAAP games were basketball, women's volleyball, baseball, football, swimming and track and field.
UP representatives Dr. Antonio Sison and Bartolome headed the UAAP's infant stage by becoming the president and secretary-treasurer respectively. At the same time, Bartolome also gave a brilliant suggestion to the top honchos of the UAAP by giving each member universities a chance to be trained in the conduct and management of the league.
Thus, in the drawing of lots, UST was the first to host, followed by FEU and NU.
From 1938 onwards, the league ran the athletic events with much success. It was only in 1941 when the league's operation was completely halted due to the outbreak of the Second World War.
At the end of the war, UAAP resumed with Santo Tomas as host.
In 1952, the UAAP opened its doors to other universities with the University of the East, University of Manila and Manila Central University granted probationary status.
But of the three, only UE got the permanent membership after playing for three seasons in the UAAP.
From 1965 to 1971, the University of the East asserted its dominance in the basketball scene by collaring seven consecutive titles.
In 1970, Adamson reapplied for membership with a two-year probationary period.
Four years later, Adamson gained full membership following its successful hosting of the UAAP games.
In 1978, Ateneo de Manila joined the UAAP while eight years later, La Salle followed suit to continue its rivalry with the Blue Eagles.
Other memorable events for the UAAP came in 1981 when FEU, behind the brilliant coaching of Arturo Valenzona, registered the league's first-ever sweep in basketball to grab the crown. In 1993, Santo Tomas duplicated the feat, this time winning 14 straight games to bag the men's basketball diadem.
The following year, taekwondo was introduced in the league's sports calendar of events with De La Salle emerging as champions in the men's and women's division.
In 1995, judo, badminton and women's football were added as UAAP events, while in the 1996 season, Santo Tomas registered a "four-peat", the most number of titles since UE won seven straight in the 1960s.
And in 1997, UP ended Santo Tomas' 14-year stranglehold of the UAAP general championship behind a surge of first place finishes in several sports disciplines.
Santo Tomas' 14 consecutive general championship was the most for any member school in the entire UAAP history.