Preserving History & Legacies
Div. I Champions 1984
Clarence “Bighouse” Gaines
Winston Salem State University
Div. II Champions 1967
Setting the Record Straight
John Thompson was one of those bigger than life characters in sports. He became the first African American head basketball coach to win the NCAA Division I championship when he led the Georgetown Hoyas to the title in 1984.
He was a central figure in the fight for change against academic bias relating to Proposition 48 along with John Chaney, a Black college alumni and head coach who gained prominence at Temple University.
When announcing his passing recently, the media proclaimed he was the first African American head coach to win a national title (later corrected). That struck
a chord within the Black college community because it gave the impression no other black coach had ever achieved this. But, pure historians will quickly offer
an amendment that has historical proportions to back them.
First, let us be clear: before the 1950’s, few black players were even allowed to play at major colleges and it took a monumental effort by black colleges to force their way into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
The NCAA permitted black players on white teams, but did not admit black colleges. But, the tide changed dramatically in the 1966 championship game when an integrated Texas Western team trounced the powerful Kentucky team with an all-black starting lineup.
Meanwhile, Black college teams were proving their championship merits in the NAIA.
John B. McLendon, Jr.
Tennessee A&I University
Coach of the Year 1958
Kentucky State University
Coach of the Year 1971
Lou Brock: A National Treasure
It has been 41 years since Lou Brock hung up his cleats and thirty-five years since hs induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In one of the most fabulous careers in any sport, he exemplified a life that embraced his professional art and service to his community.
Born into poverty on June 18, 1939 during the rising tide of World War II, the lad from El Dorado, Arkansas grew up picking cotton on a plantation. Back in those days, life was simple and there was little exposure to the outside pressures of the world. His passion was following the exploits of his heroes – Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella -three All-Star Negroes on his favorite team, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although with limited training and resources, he managed to play high school baseball and was offered a chance to play for head coach Bob Lee at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA.
A Celebration of Black College History in Sports
If you are a avid sports buff, you will find the Black College Sports History & Legends is an ongoing archive of history that chronicles the famous and not so famous contributors who provided fans with memorable moments that are etched in time.
One such moment occurred in the fall of 1978 in Wichita Falls, Texas in front of a small crowd of 1,300 fans who witnessed a milestone when the Rattlers of Florida A&M, ranked no. 3 in the newly formed NCAA Division 1-AA, take on the no. 4 Minutemen of Massachusetts in the inaugural Pioneer Bowl. They held on to make history with a 35-28 victory to win the first NCAA Div. 1-AAA national title.
The Rattlers had a long history of dominance in the Black college football world, beginning with legendary coaches like Bill Bell and his predecessor Hall of Famer Alonza “Jake” Gaither (1945-69). They hosted the Black college classic- the Orange Blossom Classic from 1933-78, holding a record of 26–19–1 against the top Black college teams.
The Rattlers dynasty ended when Gaither retired but was revived by a newcomer who had the swag and ability to recruit like Gaither.
But, the game that shocked the world occurred in that 1978 season on their way to the title. See the “Game That Shocked College Football”
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY
1876 PRAIRIE VIEW A&M UNIVERSITY became the first state supported Black College in the State of Texas. In 1945, the name of the institution was changed from Prairie View Normal and Industrial College to Prairie View University. The school participates in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and NCAA Div. I (FCS in football). Notables: Zelmo Beaty, (basketball), Cecil Cooper (baseball), Otis Taylor (football).
1940 CLEVE ABBOTT became the first African American member of USA Track and Field Board. He founded the track and field at Tuskegee Institute as well as the tennis program. He mentored Olympic stars Alice Coachman and Mildred McDaniels.
1971 First Televised Black College Football Game aired on ABC-TV…the Whitney M. Young Classic, Yankee Stadium…Morgan State vs. Grambling State. The Golden Bears outlasted Grambling State Tigers, 9-7 in a hard-fought game before 54,000 fans.
1984 The inaugural Circle City Classic kicked off in Indianapolis, Indiana in the RCA Dome and was moved to the new Lucas Oil Stadium in 2008 . The weekend’s featured a parade, pageant coronation and music concert. Mississippi Valley State defeated Grambling State 48-36 in a thrilling contest.
2009 Lincoln University and Cheyney University revived the Wade Wilson Classic. The schools last met in 1946, a 72-13 Lincoln win. Cheyney’s last win was a 46-0 victory in 1941. They played to a 0-0 tie in 1935.