Northington made his debut in the Wildcats' season opener against Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., a week before the Kentucky-Mississippi game. Despite the fact that it was the first time an SEC team hit the field with a black player on the starting lineup, there were no signs of racism from either audience or opposing players.
After the game, Mississippi coach Dan McGugin said, "There's not going to be any booing or anything like that. I think people are pretty open-minded down here." And Kentucky center Rick Gropponi said, "I didn't see any signs of discrimination. In fact, I think most fans seemed to accept us very well."
In 1964, after two seasons as a starter, Northington decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the NFL draft. He was selected by the Chicago Bears but never played in a regular season game for the team. After sitting out all of 1965, he returned for one more season with the Wildcats in 1966. As a senior, Northington started every game at left guard and was named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press. He finished his Kentucky career with 26 appearances, the most by any player in school history.
In 1991, Northington was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ireland started four black Loyola starters in every game during the 1962–63 season. Loyola was also the first team in NCAA Division I history to field an all-black roster in a game against Wyoming in December 1962.
The New York Knicks played eight games in 1963 against teams composed entirely of African-Americans. New York lost every game except one - when it was held scoreless by its opponent. The lone victory came when the Harlem Globetrotters defeated the Knickstives 7-0.
In 1964, the Chicago Bulls played an integrated league that is now known as the American Basketball Association. They only had one loss that season - but that loss was by only one point against what is now known as the Seattle SuperSonics. The Bulls finished with the best record in the ABA and got into the playoffs - where they lost to the eventual champion Virginia Squires in three games.
In 1995, the University of Massachusetts Amherst became the first school to have four black players on its team when they featured DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Winters, Cedric Maxwell, and Alton Ford in their games this season. UMass went on to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men's Basketball Championship that year.
The game against the USC Trojans, headed by Sam Cunningham, a black running back for the Trojans, was a watershed moment in Alabama's history. Cunningham dominated Alabama in the contest, which Alabama won 42-21. (Morton). Alabama was obliged to recruit black athletes after that season in order to compete with other colleges. The first black player admitted into the University of Alabama was John David Crow. He played for the Crimson Tide from 1951 to 1953 before serving in the Army National Guard and then going into business in Mobile, Alabama.
Cunningham was born in Los Angeles on January 4, 1931. His parents moved to Southern California when he was young so he could get an education. He attended Compton High School before graduating from Hollywood Park Academy. As a student at USC, he met his future wife, Mary Ann Troup, who was also black and from Alabama. They married in August 1952 after he finished playing for the Trojans. After graduating from USC, he went straight into the Army where he served as a paratrooper until 1956 when he returned home to start a football career.
After retiring from football, he became one of the most successful real estate agents in Los Angeles. In 1992, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He died on November 29, 1999 due to heart disease. His wife, Mary Ann, followed him two years later on November 28, 2001. They are both buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Taylor Stokes was the school's first black athlete to be awarded a scholarship in 1969, and he played on the freshmen squad that year. He was injured the next season, and it's unclear if he played or not. After graduating, he went on to play pro ball for several teams from 1972 to 1979.
Another player who got a scholarship but never played a down of college football was Ernie Davis, who earned a spot on the Clemson roster during the summer of 1970. He died in a car accident before the start of the season, though, so never even had a chance to suit up for the Tigers.
Davis is the only African-American player to receive a scholarship to Clemson. The first black player drafted by the NFL was Roosevelt Potts from Clemson. He played only one game for the New York Giants in 1945 and didn't score any points. That's probably because nobody knew who he was at the time!
The first black player to win the Heisman Trophy was Howard Jones from Texas A&M. He won the award in 1974 after a stellar career with the Aggies.
Harrison Fitch, the team's first African American player, was controversially benched by coach John Heldman for a 1934 game against the US Coast Guard Academy. Hugh Greer, a former player at Connecticut Agricultural College, returned to his old school as a freshmen coach after graduation. He persuaded the head coach, Ike Harris, to let him play in a game against UConn that season. The game took place on January 25, 1934, and Greer scored 20 points before being ejected for excessive violence. After graduating from UCGA, he became the first black player for the New York Knicks.
The first two black players to join the UConn basketball program were Larry Hunter and Alva Weaver. They both played for the Huskies in the 1940s. In addition, there have been several other men who have played at least one game for UConn during its existence who were also black. These include Hank Luisetti, George Lynn, Curtis Rowe, Rodrick Williams, Akeem Olajuwon, and DeAndre Daniels.
Hunter and Weaver met while they were students at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Both were members of the basketball team there. After graduating, they came together again when the Boston Celtics selected them in the second round of the 1949 BAA Draft. Hunter eventually played in four games for the Celtics before moving to France where he continued to play professional ball.