I asked the Saturday before last who was Texas Tech's first Afircan-American football player. I had a number of readers email me that it was Danny Hardaway, from Lawton, Oklahoma.
I took it upon myself to look a little into Danny Hardaway, who was the the first African-American athlete to receive a scholarship at Texas Tech. Way back on February 7, 1999, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal talked with Danny Hardaway about his experiences at Texas Tech. Hardaway had this to say about why Texas Tech chose him:
''Maybe that's why they (Tech) chose me. I had a background in a white school that had a large black population. They probably felt I could answer the challenge without too many problems. Racism was certainly around. I'm not going to fool myself about that. But I was kind of sheltered from most of that. I'm sure a lot of people didn't like the idea of me being around, but I didn't see a lot of it Ð not in my face, so to speak.''
Hardaway was a 6'3" and 205 pound athlete was initially recruited as a receiver by J. T. King but was switched to running back. Hardaway's first year was spent playing on the freshman team (at that time, freshmen weren't allowed to play on the varsity) and he was given Donny Anderson's number 44 when Hardaway suited up in 1969.
In 1969, Hardaway was the leading rusher with 159 attempts and 483 yards. Hardaway also led the team with 659 total yards.
In 1970, Jim Carlen was hired and apparently Hardaway and Carlen got off on the wrong foot as Hardaway was reduced to a kick returner, 15 returns for 288 yards. Here's Hardaway on Carlen:
''There were other things, too. They changed the offense in a way that wasn't appealing to me. It came down to whether I wanted to stay there and not play ball or transfer for my last year. I still wanted to play pro ball, so I chose the transfer route.''
It seems as if there were issues on both sides, but considering the pressure that Hardaway was under, you would think that a coach would be a little more understanding or perhaps compassionate. Of course, from Hardaway's perspective, he probably should have know that he wasn't going to get any favors being the first African-American athlete at Texas Tech.
There's no mention of Hardaway being Texas Tech's first African-American scholarship athlete. There's no mention in the official media guide, at least in the 2007 version other than those stats listed above. There's no mention of Hardaway on Texas Tech's official athletic website. There isn't a search function, but I looked as best I could. I thought that Texas Tech maybe would have placed Hardaway in the Texas Tech Hall of Honor, but Hardaway is no where to be found. At first I thought that perhaps this was a case of Hardaway not receiving his degree, which would explain why he's not included, but at least according to the front page of the Texas Tech Hall of Honor, this isn't a requirement.
Apparently there is some audio where Coach J.T. King discusses Hardaway, but it's not available on the internet. I suppose that you would have to go to the library to take a listen. If anyone else knows how to post this or how to get the audio, let me know.
The most complete history on the subject of the first African-American players at the old Southwest Conference schools is from Richard Pennington, Racial Integration of College Football in Texas (from Invisible Texans). If you didn't read this last week then you should take the time to read it now.