“If one of us got hurt, we would have to practice if at all possible, where our white counterparts didn’t have to.” – former Indiana linebacker Mike Adams, recalling events from 45+ years ago.
The so-called “IU 10” will now be credited for “drawing attention to, and thereby improving, race relations at Indiana University during a tumultuous era in American history.” – from a recent university statement on the end of a disenfranchisement that lasted nearly half a century.
During the 1969 college football season, 10 African-American players at Indiana felt they were being discriminated against because of their race and expressed this concern to head coach John Pont. When Pont and his staff failed to address the issues to the players’ satisfaction, the 10 players, subsequently known as the “IU 10”, walked away from the team.
Indiana had played in its only Rose Bowl two years earlier. The boycott/protest impacted the Hoosiers on the field immediately. The team was 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten when the players left with three games remaining. Indiana lost all three games to finish 4-6 overall and 3-4 in league.
To his credit, Coach Pont, who would pass away in 2008, did not revoke the scholarships of the players and all ten graduated, but their chances of making it to the pros took an obvious hit.
Now, all these years later, the impact off the field is being recognized and even honored by Indiana University.
Eight of the 10 players are still alive, and five of them took part in a recent three-day meeting with university officials. It was the culmination of a long reconciliation/welcome back process . The meeting featured the school president, the AD, and football administrator and former Hoosier gridiron star Anthony Thompson. Current basketball coach Tom Crean and football coach Kevin Wilson were photographed with the group for a press release.
The 10 players will receive their letterman’s blankets retroactively along with membership in the IU Alumni Association. Indiana will create a for-credit class that will examine the circumstances that led to the players’ actions as well as race relations and conflict resolution in general. There will also be permanent displays on campus to recognize the ten.
Adams, who initiated all of this, seems satisfied. He said, “The IU 10 have placed themselves in the history of Indiana, in a good place, and we’ll finally get our recognition for our input in human rights.”
Safety Eilar Hardy is transferring from Notre Dame to Bowling Green. He will be eligible for the 2015 season because he graduated from Notre Dame this May. Hardy had announced in January that he would be transferring; at that time Miami of Ohio, Purdue and Connecticut were also in the running for his services. Hardy was one of five players suspended for the first eight games of 2014 due to accusations of academic fraud at the hallowed South Bend institution.
Justice Hansen, a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma, will transfer. The quarterback went 5 for 5 for 70 yards in OU’s spring game but still was probably no better than fourth on the depth chart. Now he’ll never take a snap for the Sooners. Coach Bob Stoops: “He has our full support. He has been an outstanding team member and will make someone a good quarterback. We will give him a full release so he can transfer with no restrictions.”
On his Twitter account Hansen reported that he’d prayed about his decision, thanked his coaches and teammates and wished “nothing but the best” for the Sooners moving forward.
Where will he go? While in high school in Edmond, Oklahoma, Hansen had offers from
Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Missouri, Mississippi and Texas A&M. Though he’ll have to sit a year under NCAA transfer rules, Hansen should have plenty of suitors.