BLACK COLLEGE SPORTS HISTORY & LEGENDS

NAIA: The Breakthrough and Championship That Followed

John B. McLendon, Jr.:
Led Tennessee State to three straight NAIA titles

Al O. Duer, Exec. Secy, NAIA and McLendon, BCSC member

Harry Jefferson, member, BCSC and West Virginia State head coach

Fred Hobdy: led Grambling to 1964 title

Lucious Mitchell: led Kentucky State to second triple crown 

As basketball, baseball and football in high schools and colleges started to emerge as major sports, they began to vie for acceptance into the mainstream. Baseball felt the rising pressure to address the denial of super talented players who were displaying their prowess in the Negro Leagues.
The Black Coaches Steering Committee led a long and arduous uphill battle for inclusion that began in the 1940s. The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAA), the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and the Mid-Western Athletic Conference (predecessor of the Southwestern Athletic Conference) campaigned to play on the big national stages of collegiate basketball because they felt they could compete in the college championship tournaments. After being denied by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NAIA) led by its Executive Secretary Al O. Duer plotted a road map for the inclusion of Black College basketball teams into their annual national invitational tournament, which was the biggest college platform at the time. Despite the fervent opposition of the southern schools, they prevailed but not without restrictions. 
The first all-black District 29 – had all the teams clumped together and the outright champion was proclaimed after individual conference tournament champions met to decide one representative that would be the pole-bearer in Kansas City, Missouri. Tennessee State University, led by head coach Clarence Cash became the first District 29 Negro National Champions, and as recorded by the Black College Steering Committee Executive Secretary Mack Greene (Central State, Ohio), the TSU Tigers were the first to “step on the floor“ in Kansas City in 1953.  And the rest is history. This opened the door for some of the best black college basketball competition ever and produced several national champions- two of whom became three-time repeat champions (Tennessee State- 1957, ’58, ’59) and Kentucky State (1970, ’71, ’72).

Year           Champion                               Score             Runner-up                       Third Place                    Score         Fourth Place            

1956          McNeese                                60-55             Texas Southern               Pittsburg State KS         77-70          Wheaton IL
1957          Tennessee State*                  92-73             SE Oklahoma                  Pacific Lutheran            87-85           Eastern IL                     
1958          Tennessee State**                85-73             Western IL                       Texas Southern            21-109          Georgetown KY

1959          Tennessee State***              97-87             Pacific Lutheran              SW Texas                        87-80          Ft. Hays KS            
1960          SW Texas State                      66-44            Westminster                    Tennessee State           100-65         William Jewell
1961          Grambling State                     97-75            Georgetown KY               No. Michigan                101-84          Westminster
1962          Prairie View A&M                   62-53            Westminster                    SE Oklahoma                   76-62         W. Illinois
1963          Pan American                         73-62            Western Carolina            Grambling                     107-86          Ft Hays KS            
1965          Central State, OH*                 85-61             Oklahoma Baptist          Ouachita Baptist             78-71          Fairmont State            
1966          Oklahoma Baptist                  88-59            Ga Southern                    Grambling                    111-110          Norfolk State            
1968          Central State, OH**               51-48             Fairmont State                WI-Oshkosh                    102-68         Westminster
1969          E New Mexico                        99-76             Md Eastern Shore          C Washington                  98-62          Elizabeth City
1970          Kentucky State*                     79-71             Central Washington       E New Mexico                 77-72 OT    Guilford NC
1971          Kentucky State**                102-82              E Michigan                      Elizabeth City                  88-87 OT     Fairmont State
1972          Kentucky State***                 71-62             WI – Eau Claire                 Stephen F Austin           94-91          Gardner-Webb
1973          Guilford NC                            99-96             Md Eastern Shore           Augustana IL                   96-93          Slippery Rock PA
1974          West Georgia                         97-79             Alcorn State                    Kentucky State                95-79           St. Mary’s TX
1975          Grand Canyon AZ                  65-54             Midwestern TX               Alcorn State                     76-74           St. Mary’s TX
1976          Coppin State                          96-91             Henderson State AR      Marymount KS                76-75            Lincoln Memorial TN
1977          Texas Southern                     71-44             Campbell NC                   Henderson State AR       96-73           Grand Canyon MI
1980          Cameron OK                          84-77             Alabama State                Huron SD                          59-54           WI – Eau Claire            
1982          SC -Spartanburg                   51-38             Biola CA                           Hampton                           98-94            Kearney State NE
1987          Washburn KS                        79-77             West Virginia State         Central Washington        79-69            Georgetown KYA