"Listen," says Bob Wallace, who is from Phoenix, Ariz., "let me try to get one thing straight. We don't want to date white girls. What the hell is so great about a white girl? But we do want to date. Anybody. Black girls, purple girls, striped girls. And if there's nobody else available, then white girls. But they make it seem like a cardinal sin on this campus—after they've got you here."
One day a pair of recruiters were trying to convince Willie Worsley of the Bronx that he should take his wizardry with the basketball to UTEP. "We went out for a drive," Worsley remembers, "me and my father and the two guys. I wasn't too interested in what they were talking about, so I came straight to the point. I said, 'How is the social life?' One of the recruiters said, 'It's great, the sun's shining all year round." Then they started talking about something else, but I still wasn't satisfied, so I asked 'em again, 'Well, how's the social life down there?' And this recruiter, he must've thought I was stupid, he said, 'Oh, it's nice, you know, the sun shines every day.' Anything that had to do with racial prejudice, they ducked. But I was young and maybe I was stupid, because here I am. But this was my last resort. If I had had any other possibility, I wouldn't have come here."
Les Miller, a handsome, young part-Negro, part-Arawak Indian from Nassau in the Bahamas, accepted a full athletic scholarship to UTEP, and when he arrived on campus he quickly learned that despite his reddish coloring and chiseled features he was a "nigger."
"When I was a senior in high school," Miller says, "I had a lot of offers from college track coaches. But the man from UTEP talked faster than any of the others. He told me how great this place was. He said the people were nice and there were lots of girls, and there was no racial prejudice of any kind. So I figured it must be like Nassau, where people get along together, and I accepted without even coming here to look around. Me and my roommate, Jerri Wisdom, came here, and we learned fast. We'd see a white girl and say hello, and she'd act like she had her ears covered, or she'd say, 'Oh, Jesus,' and split. And the Negro girls—well, there aren't any Negro girls. So we talked to somebody in the athletic department about this, and he said, 'Oh, don't worry about that, boys. If that's what you want, just go across the border to Juarez. They practically give that stuff away over there.' That's what he thought of us. First, that all we wanted was sex, and second, that sex with those scummy $2 tramps from Ju�rez was good enough for us!"
Trackman Jerri Wisdom is also a handsome Bahamian of mixed ancestry, and he is just as bitter as his roommate. "The social life every night is I come back to my room and look at Les Miller's face."
"Somebody asked us if the white girls don't walk with us from class to class," says Miller. "I said, 'Hey, man, what do you want: blood on the campus?' "
No single member of the school's athletic administration will admit to being dead set against interracial dating, but someone must be, because no subject has caused more trouble on the campus in recent years. According to the black athletes en masse, there is not one coach or athletic-department member who will countenance black-and-white dating. Athlete after athlete tells of being called in and ordered to stop or risk loss of his scholarship. The establishment vaguely admits the charge, with considerable qualifying and backing and filling, and just as vaguely puts the blame on the downtown businessmen, the big contributors to the athletic program. "Some guy that's giving money to the athletic department calls the athletic director," says President Ray, "and he says, 'O.K., now I've helped for the last time. It just made me sick to my stomach to see that interracial dating going on. Now let me see you stop it!' "
George McCarty addresses himself to the problem: "One of our biggest detriments or handicaps with the nigger athlete right now is the shortage of, you know, girls. It's their normal field just like everybody else.... I'll tell you what we try to do when they try to start dating white girls. It's my opinion we try to be real objective with 'em. I have set and talked with 'em before, and I'm saying that society per se in this country is really not ready for this and that really it's not accepted on either side...."
Says Football Coach Bobby Dobbs: "Certainly I'd say I wouldn't advise interracial dating, because I don't think it would be to the athlete's best interest as far as his future happiness is concerned.... No, I don't know what I'd do if I had a Negro athlete going with a white girl and he wouldn't stop."
Says Basketball Coach Don Haskins: "I've told my athletes that personally I couldn't care less about interracial dating, but you have people downtown who might not like it.... I've told the kids that I can't stop them, but I think that, well, I think that it hurts them in the eyes of the people."