"As for me, I'm a family guy. But with the threats, and the pressure of no job, I began to not want to be home at six. We split without too much rancor. She kept the San Francisco house."
Smith, back to basics, moved in with Evans. "On a dead-end street in San Jose," Smith says. "I was comfortable there because no one knew where I was. I drove my Datsun 210 to Milpitas every morning and taught fourth and fifth grade. Then I was track coach at Milpitas High School. I might be there still, but Jack Scott asked if I wanted to go to a little college in Ohio, name of Oberlin."
Scott was, in Smith's words, "a foremost white radical." He would be notable for harboring Patty Hearst while she was in hiding in 1974-75, for acting as an adviser to basketball star Bill Walton and, later, for popularizing microcurrent treatment for injuries. But Scott first jolted sports in the late '60s and early '70s with the view, expressed in his books Athletics for Athletes and The Athletic Revolution, that the authority granted to college and high school coaches was at odds with good teaching.
In 1972, Oberlin hired a new president, Robert Fuller, a reformer. He hired Scott to be athletic director. Scott, with student input, hired three black head coaches: Cass Jackson for football, Pat Penn for basketball and Tommie Smith for track.
Scott opened Oberlin's gym to townspeople, stopped charging admission for football and basketball games, tripled funding for women's sports and began classes on sport in society, literature and politics. Tenured professors opposed it all. Camps formed.
"Professionally, it was an advance for me," says Smith. "But Jack was hated by the P.E. department, and I caught some of that. Still, we did well in track with Bud Winter's techniques. At first it was exciting."
And then it wasn't. Fuller resigned in 1973, and suddenly Scott was without a friend in court. The old guard asked Scott to go. He agreed, on condition that Smith and Jackson be hired for another three years.
"If I do nothing else of value," Scott says now, "at least I was able to assure Tommie Smith an academic career."
Smith taught sports sociology. "I was unpopular," he says. "Students of mine kept asking difficult questions of the administration. Kevin was five and six years old, and I was coaching, teaching and being assistant athletic director. I know what single parents go through."
He felt, as the Scott reforms fell one by one, that he was presiding over the decay of a dream. He went through his days with a kind of rushed detachment. People saw more of his temper.