Video: “Glory Road and the Desegregation of College Basketball: The Untold Story at Oregon State”
Alex Sanchez: Good Evening, welcome to "Glory Road and the Desegregation of College Basketball: The Untold Story at OSU." My name is Alex Sanchez, and I'm a member of the Association for the Advancement – Association of Faculty for the Advancement of People of Color, that's kind of a hard thing to use as the acronym, but anyhow, on behalf of my colleagues in that organization, as well as our cosponsors, the Varsity O, and The Office of The Vice Provost for Student Affairs, we all thank you for coming this evening.
Tonight's event will involve a brief presentation, first of all, a little bit of background for this, a few months ago, the AFAPC decided that we wanted to have an out-of-class learning experience that we would sponsor, and so we decided that there was a series of films that involved individuals that have done tremendously exciting things that have really changed our society and we had a number of those films that we looked at, and the first one that we decided on, we are going to have a series of films, but the first one we decided on is the one that we are showing some short clips from and that is Glory Road. It's a story, as you'll find out about how basketball was really opened up to black basketball players, other than on a token basis. It is a truly amazing story of how that came about and it has changed the way that basketball has evolved since then. So the brief presentation, as I mentioned, will involve selected scenes from the film, and then followed by a panel discussion and there will be a presentation by Dwayne Plaza, who is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Natalia Fernandez, who is the Oregon Multicultural Librarian for OSU. The OSU Archives, I should be clear.
AS: Then we will provide an overview of the history of desegregation in basketball in general, as well as, the integration within OSU Men's Basketball Programs. There is a wealth of information in the OSU Archives about this, by the way, and it's very, very interesting. The film clips will include about 25 minutes, and which is based on the true story of the 1966 Texas Western College Championship team that won the NCAA. After the film we will begin the panel discussion where there are 5 distinguished guests this evening, Coach Paul Valenti, Norman Monroe, Charlie White, Dr. Larry Griggs and Craig Robinson. The panel discussion will be facilitated by Dawn Wright, who is a faculty member in Geosciences, here at OSU and we will be sure to include time at the end for a question and answer session. Again welcome.
Dwaine Plaza: Well I have the pleasure of talking about basketball and it's a sport that I like to watch. So basketball was invented in December 1891 by James Naismith and Naismith introduced the game while he was the instructor of the YMCA in Springfield Massachusetts. The game itself involved elements of American Football, Soccer, Hockey, and ultimately the first ball that was actually used was a soccer ball, which is kind of interesting piece of trivia. It was played on a half court basis and it actually used wooden peach containers to actually shoot the basket to the ball into the basket. Interesting enough, going back to the historical archives, you realize that actually women were the first ones to actually to be playing basketball and women basketball begin in 1892 at Smith College and ultimately, the game of basketball as a competitive sport really was about women developing the sport and ultimately, it then defused onto men.
DP: African Americans joined the game just a little bit later on, by the 1900's, but thirteen years after basketball was invented, you actually had the first African American's beginning to play under a coach Edwin Henderson, who introduced basketball to his Physical Education class at Howard University. After Howard University, Tuskegee developed a basketball program [0:5:00] and by 1910 you had basketball as being one of the most popular sports played among African Americans, particularly because it was so easy, in terms of the amount of cost it would actually be, you could play on any surface and required little equipment and so lots of African American people could actually be playing, both men and women.
DP: The first African Americans to be part of the sport of basketball in an integrated situation were at the very elite colleges on the East Coast, so people like Paul Robeson and Wilbur Wood actually were on basketball teams in places like Rutgers University and University of Nebraska. So it was fairly a segregated sport even up until about the 1940's. So African Americans had their own teams, White-Euro Americans had their own teams, and there was only one game that actually took place in the mid-1940's against Duke University where a completely African American team, in secret, played a White-Euro American team. So by the 1940's then, thinking about here on the west coast, one of the most notable players to come out of a basketball program is Jackie Robinson, and Jackie Robinson played for UCLA, and he was a multi-sport player, as many of you actually probably know this, he was a track star, basketball, baseball and also football player. And he of course, went on to great notoriety when he became the first African American to desegregate baseball.
DP: Go a little bit further, into the Midwest, we realize there is the Big 10 Conference by the 1940's had finally had its first African American player and his name was William Garrett. In 1947, this became a watershed situation because up to this point the Big 10 Conference was actually quite segregated and at that time you had a situation where the coaches actually had a gentleman's agreement. This gentleman's agreement ultimately said that you would only have one African American player on your team, if you had any at all. The gentleman's agreement also occurred in the southern conference and the southern conference was actually one of the larger conferences, it had 12 teams in total in the southern conference and again another rule that actually occurred among the coaches, was that if you did allow African Americans on the team you actually have 3 African Americans being allowed to play home games and if you went on the road you only allowed up to 2 African Americans to play on the road. So, these gentlemen here can check me for any of my facts here, as we are going along.
DP: Another really important watershed moment takes place in 1961, when the head coach of the Loyola University, coach by the name of George Ireland, began to play 4 African Americans as starters and by 1963 the Loyola team went on to win the NCAA tournament, which is a watershed moment once again, because this became a point in which the gentlemen's agreement was actually broken so that becomes a really major situation.
DP: We also need to remember at this time there was also some external factors going on, and the external factors were other sports had already been desegregated, things like football had been segregated and you also had of course, some major African Americans who were playing at the highest levels in basketball, people like Bill Russell, or Wilt Chamberlain who were playing professional basketball in the NBA. You also had in baseball, people like Hank Aaron or Gale Sayers doing great things on the field and so college basketball was only a matter of time until college basketball would actually become desegregated, I think the conditions were there for that to actually take place. People like Mohammed Ali of course, were also fighting at that point.
DP: This brings us to 1966, when the major watershed moment takes place and that watershed moment really becomes the team at Texas Western University College headed up by Don Haskills [sic, Don Haskins], where he finally decides that he is going to play 5 African American players on one team and they actually go on to win the NCAA 1966 title. And that becomes our watershed moment that actually changes the whole trajectory of college basketball to be actually known today.
Natalia Fernández: So as mentioned earlier, at OSU, women's basketball began in 1898, three years before Men's Basketball debuted in 1901. Since then, basketball, along with numerous other sports, continued to be popular among women within the University. During the 1960's for example, Oregon State had one of the largest women's athletic programs in the Northwest, [0:10:00] about one-third of women students were involved in intramural and intercollegiate athletics. In 1973, the women's intercollegiate athletic department was established after Title 9 passed in 1972 which stated that, "no person in the United States shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." Although, the original statute made no explicit mention of sports its passage impacted high school and collegiate athletics. Now the historical record of women's sports at OSU does not always fully represent women's participation and accomplishments. In some of OSU yearbooks for example, and these are shots of OSU yearbooks, there may be pages and pages dedicated to men's athletic programs, but just a few, if any, pages designated to the representation of women athletics. While the specific history of women's basketball is beyond the scope of this event in particular, we do want to acknowledge that women athletes and their struggle for equality deserve recognition.
NF: The men's basketball program began in 1901 with the first game played in 1902. In less than twenty years, the program already had seven titles of within the state and Pacific Northwest region. In the programs first 27 years, there were 12 head coaches, but a new era began when in 1928 OSU promoted assistant coach, T "Slats" Gill to head coach. So Slats Gill played for OSU as an undergrad during the early 1920's and at the age of 27 he became OSU's head basketball coach. Over a span of more than 35 years, Gill led the team to numerous titles including 5 Pacific Coast Conference Titles and 4 Northern Division Championships. In total he had 599 victories. The route Slats Gill tenure at head coach there were other sports on campus that were becoming desegregated including football and track and field. And there were other Oregon college basketball teams throughout the state with black players including the University of Portland and the University of Oregon. But for OSU it was not until the 1960-61 season that the Men's basketball team had its first black player.
NF: Norm Monroe is OSU's first African American basketball player for the men's team. He played during 1960-61 but left the team half-way through the season. In a brief Barometer article, which we found, and it's on screen, it states that in January of 1961, Monroe left the basketball team in order to focus on track. That year and the next, he was one of OSU's star track and field athletes. It would not be for another 3 years until another black player joined the team. Paul Valenti played for OSU as an undergrad and was assistant coach to Slats Gill for 17 years prior to being appointed head coach in 1964. He led the Beavers to a 16-10 season in his first year and in his second year he was voted the UPI West Coach of the Year. Valenti served as head coach until 1970 and during his tenure he recruited several black players for the team including Harry Gunner, Dave Moore, Brady Stewart, Billy Nickleberry, and Freddy Boyd. His first recruit in 1964 was Charlie White. Charlie White transferred to OSU as a junior. In his first year on the team he earned the attitude and leadership trophy and was the second highest scoring player for the season. The next season, he was team captain and led the team to the Pacific 8 Conference championship. In 1967 he became OSU's assistant to the freshman coach.
NF: After Valenti became Assistant to the Athletic Director, in 1970, head coach Ralph Miller, continued recruiting black players throughout the 1970's and the 1980's, and coaches from the 1990's and 2000's followed suit. While it may seem perfectly natural now for basketball to be integrated at OSU, it took 60 years for that integration to even begin. Now just because integration began in 1960's for basketball that does not mean that the process was easy for student athletes at OSU in any sport. For example, in 1969 Football Coach Dee Andros required that player Fred Milton shave his facial hair as part of the team's policy and said that if he did not comply he would be kicked off the team and subsequently lose his scholarship. Milton refused as it was the off season and this led to a controversy regarding race and student rights. The black student union established just months before, [0:15:00] organized protests, class boycotts and a walkout. Later that year, Milton transferred to another school. Now while this event is not basketball related, it speaks to the racial tensions that existed at OSU during the 1960's. And as a result of that event, the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) was created in 1969 to provide support for non-traditional students including students of color and the program still exists today.
NF: The 2006 Film Glory Road is based on the story of the 1966 Texas Western College team that won the NCAA championship. The film depicts several themes such as segregation of basketball, the challenges of integration, for example, players with different styles learning how to play together, and ultimately the team coming together to face those who are anti-integration such as the college administration, the media, and even some fans to win the championship.
[Video "Glory Road" – removed for copyright purposes]
Dawn Wright: Alright, I hope you all enjoyed that. My name is Professor Dawn Wright. I am a faculty member in the Department of Geosciences here at OSU and a member of the AFAPC (Association of Faculty for the Advancement of People of Color) Organization that is cosponsoring this event. I'm also a former collegiate athlete in basketball, track and cycling. And it's my great pleasure in honor of this evening to now finally introduce our panelists. And I'd like to thank our panelists for their great patience in sitting through the program up to this point. And what we're going to try to do here is to have them talk about their experiences as past players and coaches, to react if they can to the film even though you weren't able to see the film but you were able to hear it and I saw several of you smiling and understanding what was happening there. And then we also would like to take questions from the audience and I'd like to call your attention to the white index cards that are on your seats because we had intended those index cards to be used for writing down questions that you'd like to ask of the panelists. So we'll see how this goes. We will try to move through this in terms of having the panelists just speak openly for about 30 minutes about anything that you'd like to and then we'll try to have about 20 minutes of questions and answer. So I'm going to first start off by introducing our panelists, each of our distinguished panelists in turn, so I'll take a few minutes to do that because we could take an hour each to introduce each of them in terms of their accomplishments and the wonderful things that they've done for OSU and for the sport of basketball but I'm going to try to just to keep it to a couple of minutes for each of you. So first is, I'm also wondering if we could move the screen, move the screen to the side so that we can see Coach Valenti as well.
DW: So just introducing our panelists from the left to the right, Coach Paul Valenti. Originally from Mill Valley, California, as we've heard, he was an outstanding player at OSU basketball player but he was also an outstanding coach in baseball and tennis, as well as, basketball. In fact, in 1952 as an assistant baseball coach, the Beavers played in the College World Series. But under Coach Valenti's leadership of the basketball team, the Beavers were the only team, besides UCLA, to win a PAC-8 Championship. Coach retired as head basketball coach in 1970 and became the Assistant Athletic Director, and he was inducted into the State of Oregon Hall of Fame in 1982, the OSU Hall of Fame in 1990 and the PAC-10 Hall of Honor in 2010.
DW: Sitting next to him is Charlie White, originally from Detroit Michigan, we've heard that Charlie is/was coach Valenti's first recruit to the basketball team and during that wonderful 1966 season, in which Charlie captained the Beavers to a PAC-8 Title, he was also named All-Conference and Oregon State most valuable player, in route to earning all American honors after averaging 11.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Led by Charlie White, the 1966 Beavers led the nation in scoring. So they led Texas Western in scoring defense, and defeated a Houston team led by future NBA star Alvin Hayes in the first round of that NCAA tournament. Charlie graduated from the OSU College of Business with degrees in Personal Administration and Industrial Relations. And this year [0:20:00] he was inducted into the PAC-10 Men's Basketball Hall of Fame during the PAC-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.
DW: Sitting next to Charlie is Norm Monroe. As you've already heard, Norm Monroe was the first African American player to play for OSU. He was born and raised in Washington, DC and was among the first group of black children to be bused into white neighborhoods as part of an integration effort in the 1950's. Norm Monroe was a track man, he was a star track athlete in the 220, the 440 and later after an injury was able to move up to the 880 and still be effective at that middle distance. He was originally recruited by USC to run track but by fortuitous set of circumstances he decided to come to OSU and to run track for us. He was caught playing, intramural, he was seen playing intramural basketball, and he got the attention of Coach Jimmy Anderson and through another fortuitous series of circumstances, he signed on with our basketball team and played basketball for us for a time, but then returned to track and became an All-American track athlete for OSU. He went on to earn his degree here and became a very productive member of the Portland community, including former Vice President of Cultural and Community Development for Cascadia Health Services. In 1993, Norm was honored with a distinguished alumni award from the OSU Alumni Association.
DW: Sitting next to Norm, is Coach Craig Robinson. We know that Coach Robinson hails from Chicago if you don't know that, you should. Coach Robinson was one of the greatest players in Ivy League history. He was a two time Ivy League player of the year at Princeton. He was also a 4th round draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers but he went on to play professional basketball for the Manchester Giants in the British Basketball League for two seasons. Now you may not know that Coach Robinson and former Princeton teammate, John W. Rodgers, Jr, were among those invited to practice with Michael Jordan as he prepared for one of his comebacks. Coach also left basketball for a time to pursue a highly successful career in investment banking, but thankfully, returned to coaching in 1999, serving 6 years as Assistant Coach at Northwestern under Bill Carmody, the/his former head coach at Princeton. Then he was head coach at Brown, where he made immediate impact and was named Ivy League Men's Coach of the Year by basketball-u.com. And then finally, his ultimate destiny for all of us in 2008, thankfully he became our head coach and has led our team an astounding turnaround that is seen Beavers Men's Basketball on a wonderfully upward trajectory.
DW: Sitting next to Coach Craig Robinson, is Larry Griggs, Dr. Larry Griggs. Larry was raised in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Washington. In 1970, he received his Bachelor Arts Degree in Sociology and minored in Psychology at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland Washington. He continued at Pacific Lutheran receiving his Master of Arts Degree in Student Personnel work in higher education. Larry then continued his education at OSU and earned his Ph. D here and he is the heart, soul and history of the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) here at OSU. He has served as an EOP Instructor, counselor, Coordinator of Admissions and Financial Aid and Assistant Director. From 1986-87 he was the acting Director of the Affirmative Action Office for OSU. In 1987, he became the Director of the EOP and served in that capacity until his retirement in February 2008. Larry has a very, very long list of honors; I'm going to mention just a couple of them. Outstanding Administrator of the Year in Multi-Cultural Education, he has received the OSU Beaver Champion Award and the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland African American community recognition. So these are our distinguished panelists and I would like for us to give them a round of applause. [0:25:00]
DW: And what we would like to do now is just have the panelists speak-out about anything that you'd like, in terms of your experiences, Coach Valenti perhaps you'd like to start.
Charlie White: Do you want to say something?
Paul Valenti: You want me to say something?
CW: If you want.
DW: Just anything that you'd like, any kind of reaction or. Go right ahead.
PV: Ladies and Gentleman, you know, for being an old man and being able to still have relationships with guys like Charlie White and many other players, basketball and Coaching has been great treasure. And it's nice to see this many people interested in a person like Charlie White and the organization that set this program up. But I got one more responsibility that I have and I want to introduce my wife Francine and stand up there honey and our oldest daughter Joanne Jernigan , and our granddaughter Gina, get up there Gina. And there's a lot of things, there's not enough things I can say about Charlie White and the experience that him and I had together as coach and player and now as good friends we talk to each other regularly on the phone. And Charlie came in here and just did a tremendous job and he didn't have an easy job. But he handled it like a man and did a great job as a basketball player and let a basketball team to an unexpected season where they ended up one game short of the final 4, so it's always a pleasure to visit with Charlie and we laugh a little bit and I appreciate the great effort that he gave to our basketball team and to Oregon State University. Thank you very much all of you for coming.
CW: Thank you Paul. Paul and I had a pretty special relationship. He came down to recruit me, not having seen me play, and I didn't know who he was, and I didn't know where he was from. I was in Monterey at the time, so I took him over to one our favorite Italian restaurants and we had lunch and we sat there and just talked and not just about basketball but about life in general and about school, we talked a lot about school. I'd gone to junior college and I had some classes that were non-transferable, of course, and I told him it would probably take me a little longer than 2 years to graduate. He told me don't worry about that, of course, that was illegal at that time I believe. He said don't worry about that we'll get you some kind of a job or something around here and we'll make it work and I said okay, he said however long it takes. So, and I just felt, you know sometimes you talk to people and you can just feel them, you know, you can feel them that they are telling the truth, you know they have your interests at heart and they're not giving you, a bag of wind and it's just real and we clicked it off like that. What was so interesting was that I think we did something else illegal, his brother came to Monterey and picked me up and drove me up here to start school. And also, I came up and I moved in with some friends over here and we started school. So, we had a good time in basketball, playing basketball and that last year was kind of a magical year for us if we'd have won that last game against Utah we'd have been in that same tournament with these guys here in 1966, but [0:30:00] we didn't quite get there. But we enjoyed that season and it was one of our best and we enjoyed beating UCLA of course, and I was here for two years and we played Oregon eight times and we beat them six, so I like that. After it was over, I did get my degree. There was another fellow who Paul knew and introduced me to when I came up here and that was Dean, geez my mind, Business School, who was the Dean of the Business School at that time?
CW: Maser, Dean Clifford Maser. Yeah, Dean Maser and he was, the first night that I came up here and he invited us to his home and he used to do that and cook steaks and I don't think your supposed to do that either, but he laid out, he looked at my transcript and he laid out everything that I had to take to get through school and how long it would take. This is what we were talking about, not basketball but getting through school, which was great and he kept on me about that too, how are those studies, how are you doing, what's happening? And if he'd [Coach Valenti] hear anything he'd get me and then Dean Maser would get me also. We got through it and we had a good time here. I was in Corvallis for those 2 ½-3 years and I never really had any problems of racial nature, there was some incidences but minor, but I had more problems of racial incidences in Detroit Michigan growing up than I ever had when I came here. I had also been in the military when I was a little of older to learn the ways of the world so to speak, I'd been to Europe and a few other places and people from everywhere so I wasn't so sensitive to everything and I know how to defray certain things before they even get started. I never really had a problem, I had roommates who had problems, on the football team and various others instances, but in some cases there was some racial tension, I guess you could say, but pretty much everybody here on this campus treated me pretty good.
Norm Monroe: You looking at me?
CW: Yes, since you were the first.
NM: We've been having fun with this, "Who was the first black ballplayer at Oregon State?" I've won more beer bets by starting the question, "Who's the first black ballplayer at Oregon State?" They always say Charlie White, and I say," Oh, No!" It's so interesting that Charlie and I have shared a lot in common, and one of the people that we shared in common, is Dean Maser and the whole family, Cliff, Kim, Heather and Chris. That family actually saved my bacon because coming to Corvallis was like dropping me from Washington, D.C in the middle of the Sahara Desert and telling me to find a Sheik. It was impossible to come here, especially when you have this reputation of being the first everyplace. Being a pioneer requires not only mental stamina, but also physical stamina and also besides when you're an athlete a lot of folks think that, to me it was almost like you have to go out and perform, and after you perform, it was like a circus, you go out and perform in front of the people, then where do you go? Where does the performer go after that? Nobody invited me to frat parties or any place else. There was 9 of us, I'm older than this guy here [Charlie White], much older, then but not as old as the man on the end [Paul Valenti]. And I've seen it all in my propitious way of getting here from Southern Cal, I'll tell you a brief story about that because it's pretty interesting it sort of ducktails with why I'm here and why I feel much more relaxed in this setting than I had when I first came here in 1959.
NM: I came here first, I came up here by greyhound bus in 1959, now I don't think anyone knows what that's like, but when you take, see a lady [0:35:00] in a Greyhound bus station take a glass and separate it from the rest of glass and don't put it back in the case where you wash dirty glass, it makes you think that something is wrong, the idea that something is wrong with you, it seemed to permeate my brief encounters with, first of all, I didn't know where Oregon was, I came out of Washington, D.C. to go to Hollywood, and that was Southern California, lo did I learn that Hollywood was not Southern California, it's a long shot from it, in fact, I only had $95 in my pocket when I got to LA and I had to go out to Compton Junior College, which I thought was in downtown LA, little did I know, and if you know, Craig knows Washington, D.C. you can ride across town on/with two dollars usually when they had zones. I got into a cab to go to Compton from downtown LA and I forgot that I had $45 after I got there and school hadn't even started yet. I'm standing out there all alone, not knowing what the heck I was going to do but luckily I had someone's phone number in my pocket.
NM: Anyway, I got to Oregon State in a very interesting way, I was recruited by Southern Cal actually by my neighbor in my neighborhood was a first black football player, quarterback at Southern Cal, Willy Wood. Willy came home talking about Hollywood and he had all of us, we used to, go on a stupid night and you can't go in the house. You can get a bunch of lies going so quickly and everyone wanted to go see what Hollywood was like and Willy had talked to us about that. But he was the one that got started me towards the West Coast because he had talked to Coach at Southern Cal, Jess Morrison, and we had ran well enough in high school that we were, in fact, we ran so well we beat the freshman team of the University of Merlin, which was all white and so that was smoking. That is how we, how initially I got recognized by Southern Cal, but I didn't learn until later on, years later, how I got to Oregon State.
The coach at, the assistant coach at Southern Cal was the friend of the coach who was building a team here, Sam Bell. They were Mormon buddies and the coach told Sam that Jess Morrison at Southern Cal had given up on colored boys and Norm Monroe, so he didn't have, he wasn't gonna, he had enough colored boys is what he said he had. Luckily, I ran well enough that year to go to Boulder, Colorado, where the coach Sam Bell sent two track guys over to talk to me, one was Daryl Horn another one was Norm Hoffman, late Norm Hoffman is dead now. They told me that the coach would like to talk to me about possibly coming to Oregon State, I said oh yeah? I'm a DC guy from heart, you got to tell me what's in it for me you know, and I had worked in LA, I had worked in a clothing store, so I had free clothes and then I worked in a dairy so I got free milk, butter, eggs and cheese and that was all you need to eat so I was in great shape. I got here, when the coach talked to me told me that I asked him what could he do for me, he said what do you mean? I said clothes, car, money. He said no, the only thing we can offer you is a good education and so I said oh, I don't want to waste my time.
However, I ran well enough to be on the wide world of sports and when you go home, I wasn't raised in a church, I was raised in a barbershop, when you go home, you go to the barbershop and that's to find out who's living and dead, what else has happened while you've been gone. So I went into the barbershop and there was kids were hanging outside the window and I asked my brother, I say what's going on? Who was the better ballplayer? He said you were on wide world of sports and they want to see what you look like, so I knew I had to get out of town, I couldn't have the nerve to tell them I failed out of school so I called the coach up and told him I was interested in coming to Oregon State. First I had to go find a map to find out where it was. Once I found out where it was he said if I was really serious about it then he would take a chance on me and he did. I got into Clark College, I was 41 grade points behind when I first started, I didn't know I had a brain actually, and in half a year I made up 36 grade points so they let me in here on academic probation. It was interesting how I got to play basketball was, I think it was a conspiracy by the fraternity to get me out of intramural ball because we were killing them. [0:40:00] So I think Jimmy Anderson was a plant to come down, he invited me on some one-on-one sessions in Gill Coliseum. I noticed that on one-on-one session that we were playing, I looked up in the radio booth, there were shadows there, it turned out to be Paul, Red Rocha, and the Slats Gills. So after the one-on-one,
Craig Robinson: That was illegal too...
NM: Slats and the fellows came down and asked if I was interested in coming out for the team which I said oh sure. Basketball was fun to me growing up, in fact, I was telling Craig, and he probably know this better than I do, on Saturday morning you get your best two buddies, you get your rock feet on, and Hostess cupcake and your gone for the rest of the day and that's all you need and you gone to the playground, in fact, some of the playgrounds wouldn't even let you on because you couldn't hold your own, I mean you had Baylor playing, you had, and the slowest guy that ever played basketball, and he'll kill me, is John Thomas. John Thompson. We used to call him slug, it was, he played at Turkey Thicket, northwest of town, but we always liked to end up in Chevy Chase because that was Red Auerbach's backyard and we were hoping Red Auerbach would see us.
When I got to Oregon State the first thing that turned me off about Oregon State, was the fact that there was no place for me to go. In fact, they put us all, there were nine of us, there were 14 in the school, and the other ones were Africans. They put nine athletes on the second floor of Poling Hall and the noise was ungodly, there was no way I was going to graduate. So I asked the coach, I said, can I move off-campus, he said sure your scholarship will allow you to move off-campus so I started looking for apartments. Uh, that was fun. You had these virtual apartments that were always empty until you got there. So you know, we, I decided we, would turn the tables on them, so I got a white kid from LA, Michael Shapiro to be my roommate. I said Mike go out and find us a place, he was back in a flash and we had this apartment down on Monroe Street, believe it or not. There was a barbershop there, so the guys at the barbershop owned the apartments, so initially they didn't see me. I'll never forget the first time they saw me come out of the apartment and they looked at Michael and they looked back at me, but the funniest part, was the campus police had expanded their patrol range after they found out we had the apartment down there on the corner.
There was so many things that you had to make an adjustment when you came here especially. I came out of a segregated Washington DC, into an integrated environment. The mental hardships that you had to go through in order to survive in that type of environment was equally bad for me here, because I was looking for the racists around every rock, around every street corner, everything anyone said to me who was white was actually magnified in my mind, I had to think beyond what was said, to what was the intent and if you have to go through life day in and day out, 365 days looking for people's intent, and actually the thing that saved me was Dean Maser, after I had bad-mouthed white folks once too often at his dinner table; and he told me how he and Kim got out of, I think was occupied France, and what he had endured as a young man and I felt, here is a white guy, successful, but he had gone through almost as, worse than I had actually in the many respects because I never saw a hungry day in my life, I didn't even know we were poor because we always ate and everybody was in the same neighborhood.
NM: Corvallis was a very interesting place, my first bad encounter was in a movie, the kid behind me told his mom, look mom there is a nigger in front of us and I turned around was going to go to blows with he and his mom and daddy too. Then I caught myself, this kid had never seen a black person before, as many of the kids who came here at the school, had never seen a black person and it was interesting when you walked down the street, unlike Charlie, who was mature, I wasn't. I was looking for a fight, you know at a drop of a hat. When I played basketball for Oregon State, I thought I knew how to play basketball until I got here. [0:45:00] Paul was one of my favorite people, was Paul Valenti, because Paul, we were down at Arizona State, playing Arizona State, and the kids name was Larry Armstrong and he making us look sick. So I was down on the bench and Slats looked down and said Norm, get in there and check that guy, that boy. I went in to check Larry Armstrong and he made me look just as sick as anybody else. However, the fun part was, Paul was sitting there, as Larry was giving me all kind of grief, he said Normmmmm get in the contest you dumb shit. I've had, I've had many, thankfully I've had many much more rewarding experience here in school, I love this place. I didn't start out that way at all, however, after being here, I had found that it actually prepared me for a better place in life than I would normally had I not gone here. So I will never, never look down on my experience here because I think that experience can be a life saver and also help me, it already has helped me in some of the work that I've done, with getting kids in the other places. That's it.
CR: Wow, yeah. Well, I'd like to start off by thanking Dawn and the rest of the committee for putting this together. This has been truly a wonderful experience for me, getting to know these folks up here, I see Coach Valenti all the time but I don't get much chance to spend time with these guys and the story has been great and thank you all for your participation. And let me start by saying another thank you to all of you sitting up here because I probably wouldn't be working here if it wasn't for these guys.
NM: Can we dribble behind out back?
CR: Well that's, there's a little bit of difference here because you know I grew up playing like that so you'd be able to dribble right behind your back playing for me, Paul would probably sit you down but know I understand why it has taking me so long to turn this program around, I'm not breaking enough rules. Man, you talk about the Wild West.
CW: I didn't tell you about the jobs we had either.
CR: You guys had jobs too?
NM: Oh, man.
CR: See I'd mess around and do that it'd be on USA Today. I certainly love to hear these stories so I'm not going to take a lot of your time so we can keep going. But I would like to say that, the fact that you guys sort of blazed the trail for guys like me to be able to play college basketball in a much easier environment, much simpler environment, I mean, you know, things aren't exactly where they should be but they are all whole lot better than what you guys endured, is one thing, but there would be no way, that I'd be, like Norman said, my family and I wouldn't be able to enjoy this community if it wasn't for you because this is a wonderful community to be a part of. Oregon State, Corvallis, the state of Oregon and folks like me who come from big cities who think big cities are the place, the be-all, end-all of places to live wouldn't experience a college town like this and the warmth that you feel being here is tremendous and I was sharing with these guys earlier that my daughter who is now 15 and she, which means she was 12 when we got here almost 13, absolutely loves it here. And when you guys were here, you said there were seven of you, or eight, nine of you, 14 including the African guys. I think that's amazing, that's beautiful, because that shows you how it used to be, the black guys were like were not the African guys but they just shoved you all together, that's irony right there. But my daughter feels absolutely comfortable in this community and we all owe you guys sitting up here a great debt and a thank you so thanks again.
Thank you. [0:50:00]
Larry Griggs: Well first of all, I'm not going to take much time either. I didn't coach here; I didn't play here, so I'm actually the odd man out to be honest with you. But I grew up in a kind of a basketball family. [0:55:00] I'm going to go back to one of the comments you made. In 1963, when Cincinnati played Loyola, Chicago. In 1963, did I say 1963, when they played; I want you to know that was one of my family members that played with Oscar Robinson. Unfortunately, they lost, they were head gunning to the half-time and after half-time, Loyola ran them off the court, and they fast welcomed the death. But he did go on to play in the 1964 Olympics and he did play professional basketball so I can in many ways I came from a basketball family. I grew up, when I was about in the 7th grade, I used to watch TV. on Saturday and they play professional basketball, the Knickerbockers were actually on and I thought a guy by the name of "Sweetwater" Clifton was bigger than life. I thought he was over 7 feet tall, and I understand later he was only 6'8", but he was my hero and ever since that time, I've became interested in basketball. Now I think the movie you showed was really great, what it did it had a tremendous impact on desegregation and our integration in division I basketball. But I need to share this with you; integration actually had started almost 10 years before that. And I remember names of professional basketball players who started early on, Hal Greer , for example, that played at Marshall, Bill Russell and Casey Jones that played at San Francisco, University of San Francisco. Elgin Baylor played in Seattle, and actually to be honest with you, he played Kentucky in the championship game but they lost, Kentucky won. Wilt Chamberlain played at Kansas, Connie Hawkins played at Iowa, so there were quite a few basketball players before 1966.
Now the irony of this whole movie and the deal, in my opinion, this is the kicker, they played Kentucky and Kentucky was Adolph Rupp, and I don't want to call him a racist, but he never recruited an African American basketball player. He didn't want to play against African American basketball players; he refused to play against Louisville, because they had African American basketball players. Now, Rupp came out of, and I'm not going to go on, but I'm not going to give you the history, Rupp came from Kansas. Kansas started basketball, by the way. James Naismith was the first basketball coach and he was at Kansas. But integration in basketball started before 1966, I think it started, actually 1955 and 56 when Bill Russell won two national championships, in 55 and 1956. So I think the movie was a great movie, but I think, and I enjoyed the movie, by the way, but realistically we need to think about those guys that were ahead of Texas Western, that had to endure and Chamberlain was one that had to play one of the Texas teams and he took a lot of abuse, but he stayed there for 3 years. And coming out of Washington DC, Elgin Baylor, also played at Seattle.
So I think a lot of the private and religious schools were one of the first ones to recruit African American players. If you really go back and look at it, San Francisco, Seattle University, and I think initially they had built their colleges in inner city and then they realized they had to recruit and they did recruit African American players. But Loyola of Chicago, there were quite a few on that team, by the way, there were more than 1 or 2, to me there had to be 10 running up and down that court because the way they treated Cincinnati, but anyway, that's my comment. I grew up in a basketball family, so to speak, I started enjoying basketball. I did play, I played junior college also. And the state of Washington, I was, we were in the northern division at that time, there was so many junior colleges there and after I completed my basketball I couldn't go anywhere else, the coach at Pacific Lutheran really didn't want me to play there so I concentrated on my education which was a good thing for me. But I enjoy basketball, I still do to this day, and I think basketball is great.
PV: What time do you go to bed?
DW: Thank you so much to all of the panelists. I think this is, especially with Larry's comment that tied in our film tonight, I think this is a good time to open this up for questions from the audience. Now we have a wonderful wealth of knowledge up here with our panelists, we have a variety of people here in the audience in terms of ages, backgrounds, interests. I think we can have a really interesting discussion from students, as well as, our friends and colleagues from the community, so Professor Plaza here has a microphone.
DP: Yeah, I have a microphone here, there are cards around if you want to put up your hand and we'll pick up your cards and we'll pass them on to the front.
DP: I think we have three cards coming up. Sure, we have a question back here.
Audience Member: This isn't a question, it's a comment, I came to Oregon State in the 1960's so I've seen a lot of the history that you folks have talked about and I would say, that as far as the African American community is concerned here in Corvallis, they probably never wouldn't have existed if it hadn't been for athletics and the steps forward to people like Paul Valenti and some of the others that you folks have played earlier, have taken, and it was a big step in the integration at Oregon State University which is still far from complete but I just wanted to thank you for what you are doing and for this particular session and exposing us to some of the history that we have all been here for a while know actually happened.
DW: Thank you very much. Okay, I have a few questions here that I will read to our panelists. Please gentlemen just chip in as you'd like to. This first question: What is the role of sports, specifically basketball as an agent of positive social change, if appropriate could you use illustrative examples? Also, what lessons might be learned?
CW: Well, I mean basketball is a team game, it, you know I feel that you learn how to work with other people of all stripes and also, you have to think, you use your brain and you build some character. You see guys who play just pick up games, a group of guys that get together and they just play. Plus it's great exercise too but guys get together at the Y and they have a standing evening or whatever it is and they go play and you meet people and like I said it's a team game so you have to learn how to deal with other people, to share, to assist and those types of things, that's about it.
NM: I think that looking at the sport itself, it's not only is it a social, sport of social cohesion, but also it's a way out of the ghetto or the slums for a lot of us. Not only, getting us out of the slums but also teaching us the skills that you need to live in general society and that is how to budget your time, how to manage yourself in relationships to other people and also how to build relationships.
DW: All right, I have a couple of questions here that are much more specific and along a similar theme. [1:00:00] First of these questions is, how did the 1969 walk out affect OSU sports? So Larry, this might be one that you might want to field here.
LG: Actually, the walk out was on national news. I wasn't in Corvallis when it happened, I was in Tacoma and it was on the evening news. I think the State Board of Higher Education and many of the residents of Oregon was embarrassed and right after that the State Board of Higher Education decided that University of Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State could start special programs if they wanted to, they didn't say they had to, but they provided funds to start special programs. EOP (Educational Opportunities Program) was started actually, that next year and I came in 1972 and had an opportunity to work with the first Director of the EOP Program, Lonnie Harris, there was a cultural center named after him at that time. But I think, in my opinion, it made it difficult to recruit students, not only student athletes but students. Because when I came, it was my responsibility to go and recruit in the Portland area and it was like pulling teeth because of the walk out. Some of the students who walked out came back. I had a chance to talk with them about the walk out and it was something to me today, silly, facial hair. I mean you see everybody with facial hair, every man, I have to qualify. So it really wasn't a big deal. The facial hair wasn't a big deal and not today. But it was very difficult, not only to recruit, I thought it was to recruit students, not just, student athletes, or students.
DW: Thank you Larry. We have a related question specifically for Coach Valenti. Coach, could you talk about the impact of the walkout in 1969 on the OSU basketball, was there......
CW: [talking to Paul Valenti] Walk-out in 1969, OSU basketball what happened?
PV: When was that?
DW: Could you talk about
PV: Man, I'm 91 years old; I don't remember 10 years ago. 1969, I have no idea. No idea.
NM: He retired the next year, maybe that's why.
LG: I'm going to try to respond to that. Ralph Miller came on soon after that. Ralph Miller was able to recruit African American basketball players, and he did a pretty good job in recruiting them, not only from California, but also from the Portland area.
DW: Great, thank you. Here's another related question, these are all from the audience. Why would you recommend Oregon State to black students and black athletes?
CR: Well since I'm doing that right now, I'll start. Well, we have a lot of good things to sell here and when I first got here, what I was selling was playing time. I mean we were so bad here, that any good player worth his salt could come in and get some playing time almost immediately. We, that's less of an issue now as we've gotten better, what we sell now are all of the wonderful resources we have here, the ability to major in just about anything you want to major in here, is big with students along with, playing in the soon to be PAC-12. This is a really wonderful conference to be a part of, especially from a basketball standpoint, so that's something we sell here. We sell the fact that, when you leave here, you will have a degree, that's important to me, that's important to the administration here and it's important to the parents of the kids I recruit so that's something that we sell. And finally, [1:05:00] what we're selling is success, I mean we want to be the best team in the PAC-12; we want to be competing for NCAA championships. We want to get it back to the way it was when Coach and Coach Miller were here, so we're selling success and so far it's working.
NM: I like to look at it from a different perspective. You're selling a world class university that has to compete in a world class environment. Employment no longer is local or regional it's worldwide. Our kids now have to learn at least, have to be able to speak one or two languages at a minimum and have math and science under their belts. And you couldn't find a better math and science and social university than you find here at Oregon State. Especially when you talk about Engineering, which is going to be at a premium as we see other countries, China, India, and places are actually leaps and bounds ahead of us in developing those types of skills. We can no longer sit back, especially black kids, I cannot say enough about what we have to do, out in the black community we had a 16-17% unemployment and we don't have the safety valves, i.e. the manufacturing sector to help rescue us anymore, if our kids don't succeed now, when I saw the move to build more prisons, and run by corporations, that told me a lot about what the future was going to be for minorities and we just can't sit back on our laurels.
DP: Dawn, I have a question back here.
DW: Okay, go ahead.
Audience Member: Hi, my name is Shiu [?], I'm a Bio-Engineering student here at Oregon State, I'd like to thank you all for having this session today, it's been very informative for me. I'm currently taking an ethics class where we're learning about structures of repression, and so I have a follow up question with the walkout strike in the 1960's. If the student that refused to shave, in order to play basketball were white instead of black, do you think that would have been such a big deal, what if it was a white guy instead of a black guy wanting to keep his facial hair?
NM: Knowing Oregon State, it doesn't matter.
CW: [whispering question to Coach Valenti] The walk-out was because a black guy, they told him to shave and he didn't want to shave and they said if it was a white guy that didn't want to shave would it make any difference?
PV: I still can't make it out.
CR: From a coaching standpoint, although I wasn't there, I think I can say that Coach Valenti or Coach Robinson, or any other coach, would probably have, if you have that rule, you would have it for everyone. It would be hard, really hard to have any kind of credibility as a coach, if you had one set of rules for certain people and another set of rules for other people. I think a better question would be why have the hair rule at all? That's the time they were in back then, having short hair or well-groomed hair, was a sign of discipline it made everybody more uniform, that's the reason. Nowadays, it's not a big deal, what I liked about that movie, what was shown in that movie was that the Texas Western coach wanted to win so bad that he went out and got black players. That's what we do, because, if we don't win, we're gone and it's important to understand, that coaches want to teach and coach and mentor kids but if you're under the pressure to have to win, you make change, you make change, because you want to win. That kind of gets lost in the story until, the end of the movie, we didn't get to see the whole movie but at the end of the movie, they are going through the credits and they say how Adolph Rupp some years later, started recruiting black players because he wanted to keep winning.
CW: Well, I'm sure at the time, if Paul, if that rule was there would apply to everyone. There wouldn't be any separation, as a matter of fact, I think I had to shave my mustache, [1:10:00] you know and so I just did it and we went on, you know, so I had a little thing here, but I'm sure he would have applied the rule across the board.
NM: I think also the other thing that we forget, in athletics at that time was militaristic; there was a militaristic need to promote and project stability and everything that we did here in this school. A lot of our coaches adapted a militaristic coaching styles at that time, a clean shaven athlete was a militaristic necessary, necessity, I'm sorry.
CW: No dregs or any of that.
LG: But didn't some of the coaches participate in the war before coaching?
NM: Oh, you bet.
CW: Yeah, yeah.
DW: I have a related question from the audience, it reads, I started as a student at OSU in 1964 when Charlie first came, I never knew OSU without an African American player. Charlie started a new normal, who made the decision to first bring Charlie here, was it Paul Valenti, or could you talk a little bit more about how you came to OSU to play Charlie and coach.
CW: Who made the decision to bring me here? You? [to Paul Valenti]
PV: Charlie and I.
CW: Even though we broke some rules.
PV: We didn't break them too bad. Charlie and I.
DW: So, mutual agreement.
PV: We hadn't had a black person on our basketball team, and I got word from a guy that I had confidence in of where Charlie was going to school and told me about Charlie. We brought him up and he wasn't accepted, but I took over the following year and I had Charlie on my mind all the time so I called Charlie, and I said, Charlie this is Paul Valenti, this is not so-and-so you know, and so we got along pretty good and worked out great. Charlie did a great job. I think one time, was it you or one of the black athletes came, Paul, he says I was just talking to this white person, a professor came by who I had a lot of respect for and he just kind of gave me a bad look. So we talked about it, I said, Charlie you're going to run into that and you got to just handle it, you know, right?
CW: No what happened was, was a little different. But it was similar, I was standing in front of a Business Administration Building, I guess and I was talking to this white girl and one of the hangers on, who hangs around the gym all the time, I don't even remember the guy's name, but he always hung around the gym, you know he was kind of a gopher or whatever, he just, he gave me a look and turned his head away and didn't speak. So I just told Paul about it and Paul kicked him out of the gym. He told him, if you want to be, I can't remember that guy's name.
DW: Alright, I think I have more questions from the audience and we'll be able to get through, but I'll press on with a couple more. Once African American athletes were recruited to OSU what support were they offered academically before EOP, and I'd like to add to that, what academic support is offered to all athletes now? Because I think that is a very important progression that's occurred there so Norm, go ahead.
NM: Well, my wife knows this story, backwards and forwards. When I went to my first class, I went to, an English class, I was told to sit in the back, and I asked why do I have to sit in the back, he said you're an athlete aren't you, and I said yeah, well that's where you all sit, sit in the back as long as you don't make any problems for me, you'll get your "C" and that's it. That was told to me, honest to goodness, not making this up. I said I didn't come here to get a C, [1:15:00] and I didn't come here to be a career athlete, I came here to give you my athletic ability and you're going to give me an opportunity for an education. I think that's an even swap, he said oh, you want to be a student. I said, yeah, and he said oh, okay, well you can sit anywhere you want. My first paper was a D-. But, he and I ended up the being best of friends, in fact, until he died, oh don't worry about it, until he died, he was just one great guy and I really appreciate that opportunity to be around him and learn from him.
DW: Coach Robinson, would you like to comment on academic support for athletes?
CR: Oh yeah, that was the second part of the question; I was so enthralled with that story.
DW: It takes some time to soak them in.
CR: These are such great stories. I think that the support that our student athletes get now are tremendous, even from the time that I was a student athlete until now, they have a wonderful access to tutors and study halls and resources to help them succeed in class here at the University. As a matter of fact, most of my players are in study hall right now, which I'm glad to not see them here, no I'm halfway being facetious, but it's terrific. I also appreciate our academic support staff because it is a small staff that has to handle a lot of students and their sorely understaffed but they care so much about every single student athlete it is, it should be commended, I know Kate Halischak is here and maybe there are some of the other folks who are here but it is extremely helpful for our student athletes because they put in a lot of time now being a full-time college athlete is time consuming and it's tough to do and our folks do a great job here.
DW: Thank you. Dwaine was there a question from the audience there that you wanted to?
DP: No there wasn't, just keep going with a couple more and wrap it up.
DW: Okay, I have another question for you Coach Robinson. Someone from the audience would like you to talk a bit more about your experience of, or talk about your experience as a player at Princeton.
CR: You know, Princeton again, I graduated from Princeton in 1983, so the slight bit of racial tension I felt, was more elitism more than it was racial. I came from the south side of Chicago and a lot of people thought I was just there to play basketball, very similar to what Norman was saying, and my struggles were very similar, it wasn't because they weren't giving me an opportunity, it was because it was Princeton and I didn't know how to study when I first got there. So, like most students, even our players here now, once they understand that professors and Instructors and different kinds of teachers, aren't in the business of flunking them out, they're actually in the business of helping them. As soon as they start to understand that, and as soon as I started to understand that, I became a better student and our guys are spending a lot of time talking to their professors now, which they didn't do before and that's what I council them to do, because that's what I had to do, when I was at Princeton, I had to go in and talk to my professors and let them know the things that I'm doing, why I'm not understanding, and again it gets back to the fact that they don't want to flunk you out, they want to help you so, you have to take advantage of that and I have to point out that Kevin McShane, who's one of my captains, and will be a senior next year, is here. Kevin if you just raise your hand here. Kevin is here because he is a tremendous student and doesn't need to go to study hall.
DW: Thank you coach, as a faculty member, that is a very encouraging to hear as well, [1:20:00] and I think it is a wonderful note upon which to end our question and answer session, because we have some presentations to make here of our panelists but before we do that can we please give a big round of applause to Paul Valenti, Charlie White, Norm Monroe, Craig Robinson, Larry Griggs, wonderful panel.
AS: Thank you Dawn that was a wonderful, wonderful time of question and answer period. I think one of the most powerful learning that takes place, takes place when we hear personal stories and this evening we have been treated to some very powerful stories which were also very delightful and we appreciate that. In remembrance of the evening we'd like to present each of the panelists with a personalized plaque. I'd like to start off with Larry Griggs and read what the plaque says. In recognition of his long lasting dedication and service to OSU and the Athletic Department which ushered in a new era of athletic justice. Thank you, Larry.
To Coach Robinson, In recognition of his leadership and service to Oregon State University, and the Athletic Department and for continuing the tradition of athletic justice, thank you sir.
And to Norm Monroe, In recognition of his pioneering actions as the first African American Basketball Player at Oregon State University, his struggles helped to desegregate the team and usher in a new era of athletic justice. Thank you, sir.
And to Charlie White, In recognition of his pioneering actions as the first African American Basketball Player to receive a scholarship at Oregon State University, his struggles helped to desegregate the team and usher in a new era of athletic justice. Thank you.
We're not going to forget Coach, to Coach Paul Valenti, In recognition of his years of coaching basketball at Oregon State University; his individual actions were instrumental in bringing about the desegregation of the basketball team and ushered in a new era of athletic equity. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
And again, thank you to our co-sponsors and to our panelists again, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful, wonderful stories with us and thank you to all of you for attending and I hope that this has been a not only an enjoyable but also a good learning opportunity for each one of us.
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