(AP) - A state historical marker honoring Indiana University’s first black
basketball player will be unveiled in front of a building bearing the name
of a former university trustee who vehemently opposed racial integration.
The marker honoring
Bill Garrett will be placed in a grassy area southwest of the Ora L.
Wildermuth Intramural Center, The Herald-Times reported.
and the two men who submitted the application for the marker feel it should
be placed at the center, which is the old field house where Garrett played
from 1948 to 1951. The cast-aluminum sign will be unveiled Saturday after a
“I think it’s the
right thing that’s happening,” said Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, Garrett’s
Shelbyville High School earn its first state title in 1947.
He was crowned the
state’s Mr. Basketball, but no major school offered him a scholarship.
At the time, Big
Ten coaches adhered to an agreement to prevent black students from
participating in basketball, swimming and wrestling.
“It’s a sickening
thing to think there was a time when that was a prevailing thing happening,”
said Bob Hammel, a former Herald-Times sports editor who helped write the
application for Garrett’s historical marker.
head basketball coach at the time, Branch McCracken, gave Garrett a chance
but not a scholarship. Until then, only one black student - the University
of Iowa’s Dick Culberson - had played on a Big Ten varsity basketball team.
The decision to
create a marker for Garrett was a “no-brainer,” said Casey Pfeiffer, head of
the Indiana Historical Bureau’s marker program.
“There’s so much
significance,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be able to commemorate Garrett
in this way.”