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PRESS RELEASE

Dec. 3, 2020

COLLEGE INSIDER AND COLLEGE COACHES ESTABLISH NEW SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT

Top NCAA coaches committed to bringing forth change through education, awareness, and action.

BOSTON, MA – College Insider, Inc. is pleased to announce the creation of “Eracism,” a social inclusion movement committed to bringing forth change through education, awareness, and action with current and former college basketball coaches leading the way.

“I am very excited to have played a role in helping to create this project,” said Gary Stewart, head men’s basketball coach at Stevenson University and Vice President of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). “We wanted to create something that is both diverse and sustainable. We have an outstanding group of people on the committee and I look forward to getting to work on Eracism.”

Stewart, along with Joe Dwyer (College Insider, Inc.), Arthur Hightower (Los Angeles Chargers) and Angela Lento (College Insider, Inc.) are the creative forces behind the Eracism project. The mission is to educate and create awareness through athletics.

One of the first initiatives is “This Game is No Secret,” which would designate one weekend each season to pay homage to Coach John McLendon.

A legend in the profession, McLendon became the first African American coach to win an integrated national championship. His team went on to win the NAIA Division I Men's Tournament in 1957, 1958 and 1959, making him the first coach in history to win three consecutive NAIA championships. He received full enshrinement in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

In 2012 CollegeInsider.com established the Coach John McLendon Award, which is presented annually to the top coach in Collegiate Basketball. In 2016 the inaugural Coach McLendon Classic was played in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT). The game was created to showcase Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Both participating teams wore t-shirts with the words “This Game is No Secret,” to bring attention to the “Secret Game,” which Coach McLendon’s team played at Duke University in 1944. His revolutionary fastbreak style overwhelmed Duke, in an 88-44 victory.

Other initiatives include recognizing the pioneers and trailblazers of the game and to help create more opportunities for minorities in coaching. Currently there are only eight black head coaches at Power 5 schools. Just 8 of the 65 head coaches in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC are African American.

The committee includes Chris Beard (Texas), Mike Boynton (Oklahoma State), Chris Holtmann (Ohio State), Justin Hutson (Fresno State), Donte' Jackson (Grambling), James Jones (Yale), Bob Marlin (Louisiana), Eugene Marshall (Hampton), Ritchie McKay (Liberty), Joe Mihalich (Hofstra), Ryan Odom (UMBC) and Kelvin Sampson (Houston).

THE COMMITTEE

Eracism was created by Joe Dwyer (College Insider, Inc.), Arthur Hightower (Los Angeles Chargers), Angela Lento (College Insider, Inc.) and Gary Stewart (Stevenson University and Vice President of the National Association of Basketball Coaches).

MISSION STATEMENT

America is a socially diverse nation that continues to make progress against racism through education, and creating awareness through enhanced dialogue. ERACISM is committed to bringing forth change through education, awareness, and action because we can no longer just sit on the sidelines.

THE 4 PILLARS FOR CHANGE

1. CONVERSATION: It’s simple and the most necessary part of the process. We need to listen to one another and have constructive dialogue. The loudest voice in the room isn’t always heard.

2. EDUCATION: Knowing what has already happened is essential to making sure that is does not happen again. We need educate one another, ask questions and know our past so that history does not repeat itself.

3. COMMUNITY: A commitment to change begins in our local communities. Before we can bring forth change on a national level, we need to promote change and make a difference in our cities, towns and neighborhoods.

4. RECONCILIATION: Justice is the conclusion to the act, but reconciliation fixes behavior. Simply put, society needs both.

INITIATIVE #1

The Executive Committee of ERACISM has formed a panel to advocate and promote minority coaches in college basketball. The panel will work directly with athletic departments s and the national search firms with the goal of getting more minority coaches involved in the interview process and ultimately securing jobs.

One of the biggest obstacles, facing deserving candidates, is getting the opportunity to interview for head coach openings. It is difficult to get hired if you are unable to get an interview. There is a disproportionate number of minority coaches at all levels of college basketball.

Currently there are just 8 black head coaches at Power 5 schools. Just 8 of the 65 head coaches in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC are African American. Mike Boynton (Oklahoma State), Jeff Capel (Pittsburgh), Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), Juwan Howard (Michigan), Kevin Keatts (NC State), Cuonzo Martin (Missouri), Shaka Smart (Texas) and Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt) are currently the only African American head coaches at a Power 5 school.

INITIATIVE #2

In 2012 CollegeInsider.com established the Coach John McLendon Award, which is presented annually the top coach in Collegiate Basketball. In 2016 the inaugural Coach McLendon Classic was played in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT). The game was created to showcase Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Both participating teams wore t-shirts with the words “This Game is No Secret,” to bring attention to the “Secret Game,” which Coach McLendon’s team played at Duke University in 1944. His revolutionary fastbreak style overwhelmed Duke, in an 88-44 victory.

February 5-7, 2021 will be the inaugural “This Game is No Secret” weekend. Teams across the country will honor the legacy of Coach McLendon by wearing t-shirts with those words five words -- THIS GAME IS NO SECRET. The idea is to make this an annual event. It is an opportunity for players, coaches, and fans to learn more about Coach McLendon who is one of the greatest coaches in basketball history.

THE SECRET GAME

In 1944, coach John McLendon at the North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central) felt he had one of the best teams in the nation. The Eagles routinely defeated their opponents by lopsided margins. Only, there was no way for McLendon to know how his team in Durham, North Carolina stacked up against the nation’s other heavyweights. The Eagles, like other black colleges, were banned from competing in the NCAA tournament and the NIT.

Across town, the Duke University Blue Devils won the Southern Conference championship that year, but they were hardly the best team on campus. Rather, another all-white squad on campus, the Medical School intramural team, was plowing through its opposition. These former college basketball stars from across the nation were at Duke because the Army and Navy had started World War II training programs there.

Despite Jim Crow laws that banned interaction, the YMCA chapters from Duke and North Carolina College had begun to meet on occasion in 1943, according to Scott Ellsworth’s book, the Secret Game (published in 2015). During one of these meetings, a Duke student was boasting about the Medical School team’s excellence. From this conversation, a game was born.

McLendon, the legendary coach who revolutionized the game with an up-tempo style and fastbreak offense, wanted to see how his team would fare. He set up the game in the North Carolina College gym. (The basketball arena at North Carolina Central is now named in his honor). He arranged a referee and scorekeeper. A black reporter who found out agreed not to write about it, and McLendon scheduled the game for a Sunday morning, March 12th, when most of Durham - including the police force - would be attending church. There were no spectators.

After a nervous start from both teams, the Eagles hit their stride. Their frenetic pace and fastbreak offense overwhelmed the squad from Duke, no different than other opponents. The Eagles won the game 88-44. Following a short break, players from the two teams mixed their squads and scrimmaged again.

No other news reporters or local police learned about the game until years later. A scorecard does not exist. Without question, the Secret Game was a landmark event, and within the next 25 years, college basketball was racially integrated in the south, due in part to the courage of those who arranged and participated in this game.

By Scott Ellsworth – Published in New York Times Magazine – March 31, 1996

MORE INITIATIVES

In addition to working to get more African American coaches hired, the committee wants to immediately begin an effort to promote coaches and players through awards named after some of the legends of the game.

We are currently working with the Vanderbilt men’s basketball program to name an award after former All-American PERRY WALLACE. On Dec. 2, 1967, Wallace made history in a game against Southern Methodist University by becoming the SEC’s first African American basketball player to compete in a varsity game. He played in his first SEC varsity basketball game two days later against Auburn.

A high school All-American at Nashville’s Pearl High School, Wallace led his team to a state championship on the heels of a 31-0 season as a senior in 1965-66. He was recruited nationally by more than 80 collegiate programs before choosing to attend Vanderbilt and play under head coach Roy Skinner. Along with Godfrey Dillard, a fellow African American signee from Detroit, Wallace arrived on the Commodores’ campus in the fall of 1966, becoming the first African American athletes at the university.

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Wallace earned a law degree from Columbia University in 1975, where he was awarded a Charles Evans Hughes Fellowship. He also pursued graduate business studies at Columbia University, American University and George Washington University.

We are also looking at a possible award and/or ways to honor former NAIA All-American TRAVIS GRANT who is college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, amassing 4,045 career points while leading Kentucky State to three straight NAIA National Championships.

Grant was a first round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1972 NBA Draft and of the Utah Stars in the 1972 ABA Draft. He played professional basketball for five seasons with the Lakers, San Diego Conquistadors, Kentucky Colonels and Indiana Pacers, averaging 13.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. His best season came in 1974-75 for the Conquistadors when he averaged 25.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, shooting 54.4% from the field.

Considered by many to be one of the best pure jump shooters of all time, Grant was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

And we are exploring the possibility of naming an award and/or finding a way to recognize the greatness of former Winston Salem State All-American CLEO HILL. Despite having a stellar collegiate career, Hill was never given a fair opportunity to showcase his abilities as a player in the NBA. He was not only one of the best players of his time, but one of the best to ever play the game.

The New Jersey High School All-American averaged 25.4 points per game, while playing for the legendary Clarence "Big House" Gaines. He finished with 2,488 career points, which ranks second all-time at WSU, behind only Hall of Famer Earl “The Pearl” Monroe.

In 1961 he became the first player, from an Historically Black College, to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. The 8th overall pick, by the St. Louis Hawks, made his NBA debut On Oct. 21 of that year against Oscar Robertson and the Cincinnati Royals. He finished with 26 points that night and appeared well on his way to a stellar professional career. Instead he barely saw the court again. He would only play in 57 more NBA games, averaging just over five points per contest.

Eventually, he returned to New Jersey, taught school and coached at Essex County Community College, where his teams won 455 games during his 25-year career.

ALREADY HAPPENING

The BEN JOBE NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR award was established in 2010. The award is presented annually to the top Division I minority coach. Coach Jobe is an icon in the history of basketball at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is best known as the head coach of the Southern University, a position he held for 12 seasons. He was also head coach at Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Talladega, Tuskegee and South Carolina State, winning 434 games in his career.

His record at Southern was 209-141 and included four NCAA Tournament appearances. Perhaps his most memorable moment as a coach was leading No. 15 seed Southern to a 93-78 win over No. 2 Georgia Tech in the first round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament. It stands as one of the great upsets in the history of the event. He also coached the Jaguars to one NIT appearance.

The CLARENCE “BIG HOUSE” GAINES NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR award was established in 2011. The award is presented annually to the top head coach in Division II college basketball. One of the true legends of all-time, Gaines retired from Winston-Salem State University in 1993 with a record of 828-446. At the time he was the winningest active basketball coach in NCAA history. Gaines was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982.

During his 47-year tenure as coach and athletic director at WSSU he coached professional basketball greats Cleo Hill (first African-American from an historically Black college and university to be drafted No. 1 by the National Basketball Association, St. Louis Hawks, 1961) and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe.

The COACH JOHN MCLENDON NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR award was established in 2012. A trailblazer and one of the true great men to ever coach the game, Coach McLendon became the first African American coach to win an integrated national championship. His team went on to win the NAIA Division I Men's Tournament in 1957, 1958 and 1959, making him the first coach in history to win three consecutive national championships.

In 1962 he became the first African American head coach in a major professional league (ABL) with the Cleveland Pipers. In 1966 he became the first African American head coach of predominantly white university, when he took over the Cleveland State program.

In 1969, McLendon was hired by the Denver Rockets and became the first African American head coach in the American Basketball Association. After a brief stint with the Rockets, McLendon ended his 25-year professional coaching career with a winning percentage of .760 and a lifetime career record of 523 victories and 165 losses.

Coach McLendon was also the first African American to serve as an assistant coach for the United States Olympic basketball team. He was part of the coaching staff for the both the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and the games in Munich in 1972.

In 2016 the COACH JOHN MCLENDON CLASSIC became a permanent part of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. South Carolina State and Grand Canyon played in the inaugural classic, which was broadcast on CBS Sports Network. It marked the first time in NCAA basketball history that a “classic” was part of a postseason tournament. The game was created to showcase Historically Black Colleges and Universities and pay tribute to Coach McLendon.

In 2019 Hampton became the first HBCU program to win the Coach McLendon Classic. History was made again when Hampton, along with Texas Southern, advanced to the 2019 CIT semifinals. It was the first time in Division I NCAA history that two HBCUs advanced to the semifinals of a postseason tournament in the same year.

#MISSIONERACISM

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Created By
Angel Dwyer
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