Many years ago, when I was a high school senior visiting college campuses, I met with an adviser at Indiana University whose job included recruiting new students to campus.
The conversation somehow turned to IU basketball and the undefeated season the team had just completed. The adviser, an elderly white woman with a visible sense of privilege, volunteered that she hadn’t been a fan for years.
In her mind, IU basketball (and therefore the university itself) was ruined the day a Shelbyville teenager named Bill Garrett was recruited for the team. He was both a star student and a star player — earning the “Mr. Basketball” title given annually to the state’s top high school player. But he was also black. In joining the IU team in 1947, Garrett broke a color barrier established by what’s been described as a “gentlemen’s agreement” among Big Ten coaches that barred black players from the conference.
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