December 10, 2002
RIP, Bobby Joe Hill

Bobby Joe Hill, star guard of the 1966 Texas Western (now UTEP) team that beat Kentucky in the NCAA men's basketball championships, has died at the age of 59. Hill's team made history by starting five black players in te Finals, though coach Don Haskins wasn't attempting to make a political statement: he said he was simply starting his best players. Of course, when you get right down to it, that's exactly the right kind of statement.

It's easy nowadays to think that what Haskins and his players did was no big deal, but it was a very big deal. Pro sports had been slowly integrating for nearly 20 years by this point, but many universities were still lily white, on the playing field and off. Frankly, it wasn't until it became apparent to fat-cat alumni supporters that their beloved ESU was at a competitive disadvantage by not having black players that coaches started recruiting them. The Miners, led by Bobby Joe Hill, who knocked off a traditional powerhouse with an all-white starting lineup, helped to break down that barrier.

I should note that Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp has come away from that game with a reputation as being a racist. This page, which presents a lot of background and history of the game and the era, makes the case that Rupp has been unfairly labelled. Check it out and decide for yourself.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 10, 2002 to Other sports | TrackBack

Amazing. I think anytime there's a debate on whether someone is a racist or not, its pretty universally understood that a retort along the lines of "But he won basketball games" is generally pretty awful.

Still, while I can understand being a person "of the times." It should be duly noted that not everyone bought into the old claptrap of segregation. Some people were what you call "leaders." Some of the attributes those leaders possess come in awful handy when say, coaching a basketball team. So to point out how great a person was, but justify that they were merely sheep in the herd on other matters is but to contradict ones self.

Another issue I have with the "facts" as presented on the other site is this:

1966 - UK vs TxWestern
1969 - He brings in his first black player

Three whole years. Amazing. I guess some people see the light, but others keep squinting at that dim flicker off in the distance. The rest of it just reads like a typical southern state's history book. Very akin to "Slavery was bad everywhere else but __(our state)__."

Then again ... I can't help but take a little pride in seeing which school heads the list they provide. Also worth noting the success that UH had after that point.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on December 10, 2002 2:36 PM

You know, I have been a sports fan for as long as I can rememeber, and I was in my late teens before I heard that story. And, in all the tributes to Rupp as Dean Smith was getitng ready to break his record, I don't think I heard one mention of that story, or the fact that he waited three more years ton integrate. Something is just really wrong with that.

Posted by: kevin on December 10, 2002 4:04 PM

As the author of the page in question concerning Rupp, I take great offense at Greg Wythe's response. He obviously didn't take time to read the entire page, if his characterization of the defense of Rupp is "but he won basketball games" or "he was a person of his time." Those things were true of Rupp, no doubt, but the issue goes much further and much deeper than that.

For one thing, the page present ALL evidence, both pro and con. Although the page is written from the perspective of a Kentucky fan's viewpoint, ALL the evidence is there so people are certainly free to take from it what they will. This is a huge step up, BTW, from anywhere else which tends to only portray one side of the issue.

If Mr. Whythe had taken the time to read the page, and he still strongly believed Rupp was a racist, he wouldn't be constructing straw men like Rupp didn't recruit a black player until 1969 (which is incorrect BTW) but he would be explaining why he believes Rupp was a racist despite coaching a black player in high school in the 1920's, why he was a racist despite helping select the first black player to play for the US in the Olympics in 1948, why he was a racist despite being the first coach of a southern white school to offer a scholarship to a black athlete in basketball (Wes Unseld in 1964) etc. etc. etc.

But no, we get the amazingly ignorant and simple claims above. And then have 'kevin' add on, who again obviously never read the entire page either. Quite sad for a discussion where the title of the page is 'Knowledge is Good.' Maybe they should heed this advice the next time they try to respond to a thread where a link is provided.

Jon Scott

Posted by: Jon Scott on February 16, 2003 2:52 PM


Posted by: MARK A. ARREOLA on December 2, 2004 2:24 PM

The slanderous ignorance of most people on this subject is shocking. Neither Don Haskins nor Adolph Rupp were pushing social change through their respective coaching positions. The 1966 NCAA Championship was a basketball game, not a war against racism. Adolph Rupp was the coach of a team in a conference which included schools in the deep south which refused to play against schools with black players. He did not have the power to change the conference's policy by himself. He twice petitioned the conference to integrate. Try to understand the facts before you blurt out your uninformed opinion.

Posted by: Geoff Knight on December 12, 2005 5:26 PM

I just saw the movie "Glory Road" it was one of the best movies i have ever seen it showed how back in the 60's whites thought that they were better athletes but that was not true when Don Haskins and Texas Western came into town that movie showed alot of emotion of how it was back then and that game should be sealed in everybody's hearts because that game showed that black people are just as good as white people and that game should be remembered for ever because that game made sports what they are today and joined the two minorities today to be better people and to not judge by color but to be a real team that try's to win no matter what color you are and Jerry Bruckheimer should be given alot of credit for a movie being one of the best movies in American Film History

Posted by: Tim Wagner on January 7, 2006 9:03 PM

I attended Texas Western in 1966 and knew Bobby Joe Hill and Willie Cager. I never missed a home game that year and followed the playoffs and eventual championship game. People should be aware that El Paso was and still is 72% Hispanic. We did not see black players and white players. We saw the Texas Western team. We as fans and students took great offense to the racist comments and write-ups about our team. Don Haskins good friend and high school opponent was a gentleman named Sam Carr who now lives in Colorado. Don Haskins has always claimed that Mr. Carr was a better player than he but joined the military because he was not offered a scholarship because he was black. One has to know Haskins to understand how bull headed he can be but his objective was and always has been to produce the best team and develope a player to perform at his maximum potential. Some of Haskins' players from programs post 1966 include Nate Archibald, Greg Foster, Tim Hardaway and others. I saw the movie and having been there to personally witness the season, I can say that it was pretty accurate. these black players never thought of themselves as being special. They have always been down to earth, but to college basketball they are bigger than life. If you have not seen the movie, See it!! It is a great lesson of a courageous coach brining the best out in people-the players, the fans, the opposition, and the non-belivers.

Posted by: Agustin Ramirez on January 9, 2006 12:42 PM

I took my 8 year old son to see GLORY ROAD and it was the best movie I had seen in a long time. It was a huge lesson in the sacrifices that were made (knowingly or not) to pave the way for the civil rights and opportunities for our black youth today. WHATEVER THE REASON..THANK YOU

Posted by: Terye Lewis on January 15, 2006 2:23 AM

I just saw the movies 'Glory Road', and I must say that "it's one of the best movies I've seen in a while". It succeeded at showing you emotions without shoving it in your face. It re-established for me that this world is still capable of growing beyond our racial differences.

Posted by: Vincent on January 15, 2006 6:28 PM

I, too, saw Glory Road. It appears to do a great job of depicting a time in our history where change was visible. Often the process of change does not have a pintacle point. The Western Texas/UK game was just such a point. A recent ESPN show showed the struggles black soccer players face in Europe. Whereas in the US, we have made progress in race relations, we as a human race still have a road to travel.

Posted by: Weed on January 16, 2006 1:26 PM

I saw the 1966 Texas Western team play in the first round of the 1966 NCAA tournament. They played Oklahoma City at Wichita. Oklahoma City was TOUGH and ready, with a 25-4 record and a 104 points per game average. That night, Texas Western completely blew me away!!! In fact, I drove home and immediately wrote my weekly sports column for the college paper. I declared that Texas Western was the best college basketball team in the land, the best I'd EVER SEEN and predicted the Miners would win the national championship---I swear on my dad's grave that is truth. My brother actually played freshman ball at Kansas University with JoJo White and Kansas was really loaded. But Bobby Joe Hill convinced me that night. He totally dominated the game, the quickest guard I have ever seen to this day, including Iverson. Hill did a couple defensive moves against Oklahoma City that were just totally unbelievable--I still remember them to this day. By the end of the game, the Oklahoma City guards were backing the ball across midcourt, trying to protect it against Hill's blinding quickness. He must've stripped it 5 times from them. Lattin was a monster inside. From being behind early by a 20-2 margin, Texas Western won the game with a colossal turnaround, beating OCU by 15. Texas Western lead the nation in BOTH defense and rebounding that year. They were the real deal. Beautifully coached, poetry at both ends. They literally had to put down a murderer's row that year: Cincinnati, Kansas, Utah, Kentucky. But I didn't see anybody beating them. They were absolutely BEAUTIFUL to watch. I am forever thankful that that Monday night, so many years ago, I decided on the spur of the moment to drive 50 miles to Wichita to see them play. One of my greatest sports memories ever.

Posted by: gene on January 16, 2006 1:49 PM

I took my 12 yr old grandson. It was a great history lesson on racism and how things were back in 1966. He kept telling how much he liked the movie. My wife and I also enjoyed it. It was a great informative movie. And I am a thru and thru blue blood Kentucky fan too. I also was routing for Big Daddy Latin and Bobby Joe Hill to do good. But I remember working in a drug store back in Kentucky that terrible day when the Wildcats lost to TWC. How depressing it was then.

Posted by: steve Wills on January 17, 2006 8:56 AM

I just saw it and it was great! It is a great history lesson, and motivation to all athletes. It shows how hard work can pay off, and a it is a tribute to the great 1966 TEXAS WESTERN NINERS!

Posted by: matthew on January 21, 2006 10:51 PM

well, I was AT those kentucky games back in the 60's , as a young teenager, and NEVER was there a rebel flag raised at a UK game , unless it was the Mississippi fans. Rupp did NOT think Unseld was white. What a load of malarkey. He went to visit the family, and said he could not guarantee the safety of Unseld, or any other black player traveling in the south at that time. You should see the documentary WKYT of Lexington has produced. they interviewed Unseld, and all the other black players Rupp recruited, and coached. He was NOT a racist. Face the facts,Rupp haters. Perhaps YOU are racist.

Posted by: wallabbie on January 22, 2006 2:37 PM

As a contemporary of these events (1966 college grad who served at Ft Bliss in El Paso in 67) my view is that Adolph Rupp probably had racist tendencies like many of his contemporaries but came away from getting licked by Coach Haskins and his guys with respect for the Miners and respect for the men who made up that team. Like many Southern men and women he changed his views, conformed and did the right thing. I saw Glory Road with my youngest daughter yesterday and it was a great, uplifting movie about some great Americans. Entertaining, accurate and moving.I take that away from the movie and remain ambivolent about Coach Rupp. The point is the guts, ability and style of the Miners.

Billy Gunn
Spartanburg SC

Posted by: billy gunn on January 23, 2006 9:16 PM

Now this is sad there was a statement made on this board that Rupp didn?t know that Unseld was black. The facts are the following Rupp attended the Kentucky High School in 1964 like he did each year. Now I am aware he was getting old but he wasn?t blind and normally Rupp didn?t recruit he left to assistants but in this case he went to the Unseld to talk to both Unseld and his parents. Yes the scholarship was offered but I don?t Unseld for turning it down since you would have to go to Mississippi and Alabama. The next he would do the same with Butch Bread. Rupp had a black player on his 1927- 1928 team in Freeport Ill. who started.

Posted by: david bishop on January 24, 2006 12:38 PM

I saw glory road for one reason Bobby Joe Hill he,s still is mention in Detroit high schools as being one of the best bballer to ever come out of motown! And I really enjoyed it, and came away with more respect for what players of that time had to endure to play a game.

Posted by: kdee washington on January 26, 2006 7:30 PM

I saw Glory Road tonight with my husband. We are both the African American parents of two sons-- 8 and 5. We thought it was an excellent movie!!

I would like to comment, that Don Haskins is an extraordinary man. He was really swimming upstream on this one. I do not believe that I would have had the balls for whatever reason--winning or challenging the status quo -- to do what he did. Going against the current is for special people. Not everyone is given that assignment.

About Coach Rupp. I don't know anything of Kentucky or it's history or Coach Rupp. But let me add, that just because he chose not to swim upstream does NOT necessarily make him a racist. Just because he did not take the risk, does not make him a racist. There may be some other actions that have demonstrated a racist mindset, I don't know.

So what it took him 3 years to add a black player? Are we focusing on Rupp or did other teams also take a while to add a black player? Does anyone know for sure why? Maybe he tried many times within the 3 years and players changed their minds, players didn't get accepted into the school, maybe boosters blocked his efforts. I really don't know. If you do, please share.

In the film he looked like an older coach, if so perhaps retirement was in his mind-- pensions and such. Are you a racist because you are not willing to possibly jeopardize retirement income for the sake of recruiting someone black?

Not every white person who choses not to march on Selma is a racist. I think we need to incorporate other terms --coward, unwilling, might be more accurate.

Posted by: donna on January 28, 2006 12:39 AM

Great movie: but what did Bobby Joe Hill do with the rest of his life after Texas Western?

Posted by: harry on January 30, 2006 4:22 PM

I was blessed to meet most of the players on the team the next year (fall of 66-stationed at Fort
Bliss) while visiting my sister and brother-in-law (Lou Baudoin). They were all down-to-earth
good guys.
I wish that they would have portrayed the game
between University of New Mexico and Texas Western
that year in the movie-I thought it was the best
game of their season. They were down 20 points with ten minutes left in the game, came back and
tied it in regulation and won in overtime-in Albuquerque-and Johnson Gym.
The movie was excellent and I highly recommend it
to all.

Posted by: Jim on January 31, 2006 2:51 PM

bobby joe hill was my cousin i saw the movie and i met hem in person he seem nice he always to me to keep my head up when i mss a basket

Posted by: corey on February 14, 2006 6:42 PM

To answer Harry's question posted Jan 3o-Bobby Joe Hill graduated from Texas Western, turned down a couple of offers to play in the NBA and worked as an executive for El Paso Natural Gas Company. He retired, stayed home for a while, and went to work for an El Paso Ford dealership up until his untimely death in 2002 from a heart attack. He was a great person, never boastful and always friendly.

Posted by: gus Ramirez on February 15, 2006 10:21 PM

well what can i say but that i did a study on this amazing texas western minors team.all i have to say is that anyone who dosent really know about this team i recomend they see GLORY ROAD the best basketball movie ive ever seen.but to wrap this up studying and seeing that awsome film i have to say what a leader BOBBY JOE HILL was a great man and may GOD bring rest on his soul...

Posted by: anthony on March 15, 2006 2:57 AM

It's movies like glory road that keep me playing the game I love. Basketball runs deep in all our veins (any one who has touched a leather ball). We have to all remember what the game is all about, and that is releasing the ball and watching it go through the rim. As stupid and arrogant as racism is we all have to understand that we can't turn back time to change the way people think. Just strive to be the best and don't give up. Make sure you play for all the right reasons. Go to the gym cus you know you'll come out as a better person.

Posted by: Respect on June 10, 2006 9:58 PM

they were the greatest , blacks have made history. i believe Bobby Hill has a son that sings in an r&b group called jadn rush , ive heard it several times, what happen to david latin

Posted by: nadia on June 13, 2006 9:13 AM

Answer to Nadia. Davis Latin lives in Houston and is emoployed by Republic Beverages. He has also been involved in a few business ventures that have made him a successful entrepenuer. Most amazingly, if you see him today, his physic is almost the same as it was in '66.

Posted by: Gus Ramirez on June 13, 2006 5:05 PM

I have a few things to say, so bare with me. Like I read earlier I don't believe Coach Haskins was originally setting out field and all black basketball team. He was trying to build a winning team the best way he knew how, and when it came time to do it he did it his way because thats the type of man he is. Coach Rupp may have been a racist, then again he may not have been a racist most of us really dont know, He was in an era that it was not accepted for blacks to play at southern "White" schools especially in the SEC,ACC,SWC. Sometimes outside forces act upon us to show us the light. Yes it may have taken him some time to change and adapt to having black players but he did. The fact of the matter is, that night in 1966 changed the way people as a whole viewed sports and how blacks played sports. and that has been the benchmark for every other sport from then on

Posted by: Cedric on June 22, 2006 1:57 PM

I just watched the movie and it was excellent. I immediately wanted to call my dad to ask him if he remembered that game. If you watch the DVD, make sure you watch the extras. The way those players talk about each other and coach Haskins is something to watch! I always rent before I buy a movie, and this is one that I will own for sure. After the movie I spent most of the night looking up Texas Western on the net. It's a shame it took college basketball so long to recognize Coach Haskins. Other coaches have been called to the hall of fame for much less than 700 wins. Whether you are black, white, or any other race...this movie will show you what we all are capeable of. It's a shame that many of us choose hate or resentment over respect and acceptance. I agree that Coach Rupp was a coach of the times and that he more than likely was not racist. But on one night in 1966, he was outcoached by a man who put the best team on the floor.

Posted by: K.C. on July 15, 2006 11:29 PM

I saw the movie and was moved by it. I would like to know more about Billy Joe Hill. Life after 1966 season and if you can send me some newspaper clipings of that 66 season.

Posted by: terence wiliams on July 19, 2006 4:40 AM

this was a good moving...and it was in a way touching...i know what black people have gone through but why are we so quick to rejoice this?....can any of you tell me when the next time an all white starting five will win another national championship...and if they we make a movie out of that because now a days you see an all black starting line up but you rarely, if ever, see an all white starting line that begs the question...if there is an all white starting line up and they win an NCAA basketball national we make a movie of that?

Posted by: JC on July 28, 2006 11:06 PM

I grew up in El Paso and fondly remember watching that season with my dad. We were so thrilled that Texas Western (now UTEP) won. I remember how insane it was at the College that night. The entire town went nuts. I still have my 1966 Texas Western College NCAA Championship orange and white sweatshirt.

Haskins was our hero and he helped little Texas Western become a full fledged member of the UT system.

The movie brought back fond memories,and I'm so proud that my town and my college had the guts to change college sports forever!

Go Miners!

Posted by: Valerie on July 31, 2006 1:14 AM

My husband, son (13 - power foward/center) and I just finish watching Glory Road and it was a powerful, exciting, mind blowing, tearful, funny, enjoyable movie!!
I am very please with the film and all that it represents.
There were a lot of questions at the end, and that to me means this movie help educate as well.
For all those that had a part in the this movie.......job well done!!
I really believe that Coach Rupp was betrayed as a racist, and if that is not the case.........sorry. But his character was led to believe that he thought that the "black" players were not as talented as his "white" players!! Although his players were tight, there were not all he made them out to be. Obvious, who won the game......Go Miners!!

Posted by: Anika on 8/3/2006 Houston, TX on August 3, 2006 9:02 PM

I just saw glory road.Bobby Joe Hill was truly a hero. I only wish I was born in those days and get a chance to meet him.

Posted by: Seun Wright on August 18, 2006 8:55 PM

Such a powerful movie...truly amazing, inspiring.

I'm not even from the USA, I'm from the caribbean, and this film moved me and my friends in an undescribabke way.



Posted by: Rupert Clarke on September 20, 2006 11:38 AM

Billy Joe Hill died of a heart attack.

Just watched the movie last night and it was GREAT!! I highly recommend it to everyone....every age, sex, race, and creed.

Posted by: Joe on October 19, 2006 3:56 PM

bobby hill was a good player

Posted by: javan on December 3, 2006 12:01 PM

I was eight years old in 1966, and do not remember hearing about this game on the local news in the Baltimore area. As I see the comments reference to Rupp being a rasict, it saddens me to think of all the athletes who did not get a chance simply because they were black. Rupp was not the only one not play black players. Often times when people speak of "Jim Crow" times they, both black and white say "well thats the way things were in those days". Well, you know it still does not make it right. Yes,we need to forgive an move on, but I cant help but think of all the lost opportunities for young black people due to the ignorance of the times.Many times we here in America want to look that other countries such as South Africa or Hitler's Germany and call them monsters. But if you look at yourself America you have some very ugly issues in your history concering human rights.
I would like to say to JC(posted 07/28/2006) who asked the question if they would make a movie if an all white team would win the NCAA championship, you had better believe they will. Look at all the Rocky movies they have trying to get a white heavey weight champion from America. I played basketball in high school and college and was always taught that on any given night one team can beat another, whether they are all black, all white, all red, or all yellow. You can also mix up anyway and you can still field a winning team.

Posted by: Daniel Havre de Grace Md on December 6, 2006 12:51 PM

I love hot wings.

Posted by: Paul Q. Templeton XXVI on December 30, 2006 4:19 AM

After watching the movie Glory Road which is based on the National Championship won by the Texas Miners in 1966, I was interested to learn more about the star player of the game, Bobby Joe Hill. This man throughout the movie inspired,encouraged, and just astonished me. His knowledge of the game was beyond sufficient and this is why he inspired me. Not only because we are the same race, but because he has helped me realize that we have the same will power and the same potential to be the best. I enjoyed the movie and the fact that I can post my opinion about this courageous man on this website. So to whomever made this thank you very much for allowing me to express my opinion.

Posted by: Nicosia Bennett on January 6, 2007 2:18 PM

I just saw the movie "Glory Road" and I am lost for words right now. What an inspiring, encouraging movie to watch especially with younger people. All the players went out there and played as a team and won as a team (Champions). Thank God they had a coach who believed in them and they also believed in themselves. Well done. This is my favorite movie and it is due to the fact it's based on a "true story".

Posted by: Jo-Carol Robertson-Houser on January 14, 2007 7:48 PM