DEADLINE IN DIXIE
As of this moment, only Kentucky and Vanderbilt, among the 10 Southeastern Conference members, have Negroes on athletic scholarships. Tennessee tried for some Negro basketball stars but missed out. Tulane, formerly of the SEC, has a Negro baseball player on academic scholarship. Georgia Tech, another ex-SEC school, has a nonscholarship Negro trackman, and Georgia had a Negro student who came out for football.
That, apparently, is it in the South—but not for long, thanks in part to Bruce Galphin, a columnist on The Atlanta Constitution; Charles Morgan Jr., director of the Southern Regional Office of the American Civil Liberties Union; a handful of faculty members; and the southern coaches. The coaches' pride in their craft or art, and the exigency of winning, can transcend—if not completely eliminate—prejudice.
Morgan has written to the U.S. Commissioner of Education claiming that racial discrimination is being practiced in the awarding of athletic scholarships by universities that have agreed to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that therefore their federal aid should be shut off.
General Counsel Howard Glickstein of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says that if this is the case the schools are indeed in violation of the act and federal funds can be and should be stopped. Peter Libassi, special assistant on civil rights to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, says his department is in the final stages of drafting a compliance report form. "We had planned to ask general questions about the availability of scholarship funds without regard to race and color," he replied to one SEC instructor who had written him. "However, in the light of your document we are exploring the notion of asking about athletic scholarships in particular."
Galphin has disclosed, among other things, that although Georgia Tech was going as far afield as Ohio to find football players, it did not travel the 10 miles from Atlanta to Decatur, Ga. to recruit a Negro high school senior named Jack Pitts, whom Duffy Daugherty, the Michigan State coach, called "the finest quarterback prospect we've seen on film."
Actually, Tech, as well as Georgia, would like to get its hands on some Negro ballplayers. If it's a choice between being white and winning, they'll take winning, but the State Board of Regents, a semipolitical body, will not stand for it.
Caught between the coaches' realism and the law of the land, the southern schools cannot hold out much longer. ( Ole Miss, for example, got at least $6 million from the U.S. last year.) Indeed, anticipating the inevitable, there's hardly an athletic department in Dixie that doesn't have an assistant coach scouting Negro high school games.
Ed Short, the general manager of the Chicago White Sox, hit the high note of the baseball season when, back in April, he became peeved because the fans weren't singing the national anthem before the old ball game.