The newly militant attitude of Negro college athletes, which led to a change of basketball coaches at California, the boycotting of a track meet at the University of Texas at El Paso and an uproar at the University of Washington, has spread to the sport where it could hit the colleges hardest—and in the pocketbook. The sport is football, and the new militancy has evidenced itself at Michigan State, a most unlikely place.
For years the Spartans, determined to make a big splash in the Big Ten, have recruited more Negro athletes than any other major college. At one point the majority of Michigan State's starting 22 football players were Negro, and the 1965 championship team had what it called its soul-brother backfield—three Negroes and a Hawaiian. Even Spartan assistant coaches began to get alarmed when Head Coach Duffy Daugherty would constantly appear on magazine covers surrounded by players, and not a white one in sight—the coaches said it hurt them when they tried to get jobs elsewhere.
Duffy knew what he was doing. Michigan State had the winning reputation that it wanted, it was proud of its Negro athletes and it was acutely sensitive to the value of keeping them happy. Thus the surprise last Thursday when LaMarr Thomas, a very fast-footed tailback, led a delegation of 15 to 20 Negro players off the football practice field and into the office of Athletic Director Biggie Munn to make a variety of charges.
As usual, some of the charges had validity: that Negroes were being pressured to take nonacademic snap courses to stay eligible (what other university has offered a degree in mobile-home building?); that the school is not hiring enough Negro coaches (it just accepted its first); that the athletic counselor should have a black assistant; that the school does not have a black trainer or doctor for black athletes. And, as usual, some that sounded silly: that the school discourages Negroes from playing baseball (it doesn't); that the school has never had a black cheerleader.
By late Friday Thomas had agreed to end the proposed boycott of all Spartan sports pending a meeting with Michigan State President John Hannah, who, ironically, is Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
Thomas, who figures to be a star on this year's Spartan team, has long been known as a campus activist—this week's East Lansing joke is that he will make All-America if a way can be found to get cleats into his sandals. But the mood that he represents is no joke. Many a college football coach is watching his team on these fine spring practice days and thinking, "If it can happen to Duffy...." The result is sure to be a sudden reassessment of a lot of internal collegiate athletic practices.
STROKE OF GENIUS
In bars where the custom is to give regular patrons every fourth drink on the house, the free one is becoming known as a Tommy Aaron—it's the fourth shot that you didn't ask for.
Christie's, London's fine-art auctioneers whose fame has been built on selling such works as Monet's La Terrasse � Ste. Adresse for $1.4 million, is going to auction off a yacht. "From time to time we do strange things," a spokesman for the firm commented when pressed for an explanation. "Once we sold a coffin. It had been prepared for a citizen who made a sudden and miraculous recovery." Then there was the spoon which brought a record price, $5,040.