“In order to get rid of infection, you must cut the boil out.”  Coach Henry Trevathan.

In an earlier blog I used a controversial term, thugs.  (See “THUGS, blog 161 ).

I haven’t seen much to change my mind about higher education in America.  (Payment for admission,  basketball cheating,  “AAU agents”, etc.)   Put the term “spot” into academic language and it turns out ” giving admission  to an unqualified student”.  Guilty everyone.  Admit it.

Somebody turned college admission into a commodity.  See blog 352 Payment Due.

True confessions #2.   The government was the second driving factor in turning college basketball, then football, black.  The first factor was the ability of the black players.

Basketball in North Carolina is king.  Dean Smith is credited with bringing Charlie Scott to Carolina as the first black player in NC (1967).   In truth that happened earlier in the small colleges (NAIA and mostly  North State Conference members.  The first was Henry Logan of Western Carolina (1964).

Then Gene Littles at High Point, and Dwight Durante at Catawba college.  Those who witnessed those guys can tell you a new day dawned in basketball.

Among those also affected were the historically black colleges and universities  (“You guys are taking all of my players.” Clarence “Bighouse”Gaines of Winston Salem State.)

Among the many reactions to this change was the question of admissions.   When

the first hard S.A.T. restriction (700) caused us to study transcripts, I was amazed at the fact that almost all of the black kids scored from 530 to 630.  Uncanny to the point of making me wonder.

Years later the next major change required 800 SAT , core courses and class rank.

Another series of  angry howls, many from  the black community.  One exception was Arthur Ashe, who contended it was legal only if all standards were equal.  Ashe also believed if the standard was equal the black kids would achieve whatever reasonable standard was set.

Basketball coaches figured the system out quickly.  Our league members , again among the first  to integrate teams, were limited to 7 and 1/2 grants.  When the government

gave aid, some loan and some grant,  the coaches figured they could combine monies and triple their players, and enhance the team’s quality.   (Example:  Rather than giving a full grant to a non-qualified player,  they could have financial aid or the basic equal opportunity grant of about 2/3 of costs and top that off with pure scholarship aid.   Properly juggled this might yield fifteen players on full ride, rather than 7 or 8.

Watching this evolve was fascinating.  Most high schools divvied up sports with king football retaining white coaches, while admitting they had to give #2 basketball to the black folks.  Yet it did not take long for football coaches who knew they had to win to keep their jobs, to insert the youngsters so well suited for football.  Consequently, over a period of time, college football coaches employed similar formulas that added more and better players.

Is our world of higher education infected?  Is the boil athletics?   Should we not uphold the law of equality for admission. Would we not fill some slots with good kids rather than so many questionable ones.

Below is a comment from my first book,  PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS:


You never know who you’re influencing when you coach.  The same was true for teaching in college, formal classroom or just talking to kids.

A basketball player named Damian Carter appeared in my doorway one day at Elon.  He said he rode up and down I-85 often and had planned to stop by many times.

He was in his forties, had been a pretty solid player at Atlantic Christian, having transferred from UNC-Wilmington.   At Wilmington he hadn’t played as much as he wanted.   The same was true at ACC later on, and he found his chances of pro ball weren’t going to materialize.  He was about to quit college though his grades were good.

I don’t remember the specific conversation with Damian, but it was one of fifty I’d had with basketball players.

It went like this:

    Are you the first from your family to go to college?  Often the answer was yes.

    You’re not going to make $100,000 playing pro ball, you understand?

    You can get your degree and get a very good job.  People are looking for athletic people with degrees.

    Your job is to elevate your family and its expectations one generation.  Put your money in compound interest, and expect your children to go to college.

I agreed with Damian that was the gist of what I advised the “first kids.”  Damian smiled and added, “Coach, my two daughters have college degrees, and I’ve got a million bucks in the bank!”  Compound interest.  End.  

Integration was major change.  I felt uncomfortable advising these new guys.  Until I realized I may be the only one trying to point them in the right direction.  Even now I know I haven’t walked in their shoes.

If I could gather all these grown men and women, most of who were “first generation” yet now expect their children to go to college, I would risk this advice:   You need to step up.  Granted our country did your people great injustices.  But there is no telling how many people used basketball and sports in general, to combine with federal scholarships, and “advance their families upward a generation!”  Often much more.

This scenario played out in thousands of American colleges and Universities.   Many today need the same support.   Many small schools were the ones who took these kids in.

The American public often doesn’t understand the vast differences among colleges.  Only a few of the major schools break even on athletics.  Also while some elite institutions can cause movie stars to helicopter, figuratively and literally and financially, through highly selective admission barriers, many schools are quite different.  Some admission guidelines allow you to put your suitcase in any dorm.  Many need kids went  to these schools who were and are struggling to have enough students to survive.  Then and now.

And they need your support.  Women too got tons of aid.  International athletes from all over the world got great opportunities over here.   Need me to tell them?  Okay, all you people need to pay back at whatever level you can.

Malcolm Gladwell makes an observation about college choice that I think applies particularly to athletes.  His suggestion is that those who enter whatever school, should not go where they are in the bottom third of the class.  Go to a school where you are academically in the top third and you will avoid pressures that seem to occur altogether too often, and are severely painful.  This applies socially also.


A friend advised me to never  tell my wife of poker winnings or losings .  “They all think that money comes out of their clothing allowance!”

The late Worden Allen told me of his first attempt at fund-raising at our small college in rural eastern North Carolina.  On his maiden trip the retiring minister/fund raiser,  Dr. Ware, suggested he would go along and show the rookie some techniques.  Dr. Ware was old and old school.  Always a black suit and narrow  tie.  Piercing eyes and a firm jaw.

Worden said he hardly noticed  Dr. Ware holding two new lead pencils in his hand on the first stop.  Dr. Ware said he knew the first prospect, a first generation graduate who was doing quite well.   As matter of fact he had provided a room in his own home so the very limited youngster could go to college.  “As we sat down to start our appeal we were told quickly that ‘…you guys might as well know I have no intention of giving the college any of my money!’ ”  Before the sound of this sentence quieted,  a new and louder sound erupted as Dr. Ware quickly reached across the  table and cracked the startled man between the eyes with the new #2 lead pencils.  “Do not tell me you are not giving to the college.  I housed you, lent you money to pay your bill, fed you food from our table!”

Silence and that stare.  And the checkbook came out.

On down highway 264 east to stop two.  “Take a left up there, Worden,  I know a guy over  in Ayden.”









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