Jo Jo White Stepped Out Of Bounds

  • Jo Jo made the historic step “out of bounds” that put black basketball players “in bounds” in college basketball.

    In 1966, Kansas was in the Elite Eight game against Texas Western. In a key moment in the game, Jo Jo was called for stepping out of bounds. A crucial call leading to Kansas going down in defeat, 81-80.



    As most of you know, Texas Western went on to win the National Championship. A historic game in more ways than one. Texas Western brought the first all-black starting five to the championship game and faced off against an all-white Kentucky team. In 1966, racial issues were tense in America. This game took on a different flavor than past championship games.

    The Texas Western victory in the 1966 NCAA Championship game represented the final hurdle for college coaches all through America to come to an understanding that black players could be a huge benefit to their teams and worth the “risks” associated at that time for recruiting black players.

    College basketball has never been the same since 1966, and Jo Jo White made the most-famous out-of-bounds play that changed the tint of college basketball all through America.

    I remember that championship game. Not so much the game, but the firestorm that came afterwards. Racism was on full display during this period and there were many outlandish racial events occurring on a constant basis. Lynchings and police brutality were still common.

    While our nation focused on these events and the uprising of black leaders, like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., sports became the conduit for bringing black and white people together.

    We shouldn’t forget our past. Jo Jo White was a true soldier for humanity. He represented himself with tremendous dignity and was rewarded with earned respect wherever he went, including his playing days in Boston, which was infamous for race intolerance at that time. Jo Jo has always been a part of my connection to the University of Kansas.

    Rest In Peace, Jo Jo White. You will be missed by many and you will never be forgotten!

  • @drgnslayr Very nice post. A sidenote: Texas Western became Univ of Texas at El Paso, who as a 9 seed beat 1 seed KU in the 2nd round in March 1992.

    We finally got revenge for those two games by beating them in the Bahamas in 2013.

    I think the 1966 championship should have caused Texas Western not to change their name. Almost like making that team forgotten in their own town.

  • @mayjay If they forget they can always watch the flick Glory Road.

  • Well put sir. Why didn’t they check replay?

    Most don’t remember that in 1963 Loyola of Chicago won with a predominantly black team upsetting Cincinnati in the final. On their way to the championship Mississippi St. had to sneak out of the state to play Loyola because state law prevented them from playing African American teams. These were crazy shameful times in our country’s history.

  • @drgnslayr

    The Texas Western victory in the 1966 NCAA Championship game represented the final hurdle for college coaches all through America to come to an understanding that black players could be a huge benefit to their teams and worth the “risks” associated at that time for recruiting black players.

    I disagree with that statement and it is based on the Glory Road movie that was an idealized yet flawed Hollywood construct. As far back as 1955 Bill Russell and Casey Jones lead a team with 4 black starters to the title and so did Cincinnati with the Big O in 1962 and Loyola in 1963. At the time UTEP won the titles, the top 4 players in the NBA were Chamberlain, Russell, the Big O and Elgin Baylor and the League was well integrated. No doubt there were some holdovers but the better black players from the South went to play in the Big 10 and the ACC; Kentucky itself had tried recruiting black players like Wes Unseld and others; college basketball was reasonably well integrated by then.

    KU starting lineup against UTEP included 3 black, 1 Hispanic and 1 white player. Had Jo Jo’s shot counted and KU made to the finals would they have made such a big issue about race? I think not.

  • @JayHawkFanToo “Final hurdle” seemed pretty clear to me, and pretty much encompassed your “correction.” This whole story was well known before the movie.

  • @mayjay Texas Western became UTEP when the university was integrated into the University of Texas System that is today made up of 16 different schools (8 academic and 8 medical schools). Texas Western actually joined the University of Texas System the following year in 1967 and that’s when they became UTEP. UTEP is the third oldest school in the University of Texas System after UT-Austin and UT-Arlington.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I think what you are leaving out is the year 1966. America was going through a racial battle. I even mentioned my memory today was not so much on the game but the reaction afterwards. This game brought attention to schools who refused to recruit black athletes. The gruff and grumpy Adolph Rupp reacted harshly to media pressures asking why he didn’t recruit black players. And the SEC suddenly was in the spotlight for not recruiting black players.

    Kentucky didn’t have a black player in their lineup until 1970. Tom Payne was the first black basketball player to play for Kentucky under scholarship. Payne was the ONLY black player ever recruited by the gruff Adolph Rupp.

    June 11, 1963, George Wallace, the Dixiecrat Governor of Alabama, attempted to symbolically block black students from attending the University of Alabama. This event was called, “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.” I remember watching this event on a distorted black&white TV.

    The SEC was slow to accept recruiting black athletes. While it seemed like Kentucky was late to opening up athletics to black athletes, they were actually more like the doorway for black athletes to entering southern schools.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 And that is why we all play here – we learn something new every day. I had no idea the change happed that long ago. I do remember wondering back when we played UTEP in 92 what had caused the name change.

    I still think it is boring way to name schools–I like the regional connotations of the “directional” schools.

  • The significance of having an all black starting lineup was that there was a belief at that time among some coaches that you had to have at least one white player on the floor with the black players to make the “smart” plays. It was accepted by that time that African American players could make the athletic plays, but they were not seen as coachable, and it was believed that you needed a “coach on the floor” to make sure they ran the plays correctly, etc.

    That’s why having an All-Black lineup was so significant and truly important at that time. It showed that black players were capable of being athletic and smart and poised. That was always the knock - that black players would not be smart and poised, and therefore you could not win a championship with a team of black players because when things got tough they would panic or make mistakes. Texas Western dispelled the notion that black players were only athletic.

    It took a team with five black starters because otherwise there were people that would continue to say you had to have at least one white player on the floor at all times if you wanted to win a championship.

  • @justanotherfan Same prejudice lasted a long time about black QBs. In fact, when one screws up I still occasionally hear old-timers here in SC making thinly disguised, or undisguised, comments.

  • @mayjay

    There is still a belief among some that minorities cannot be leaders unless they are leading other minorities. I experience that even now. I can be on a general committee or board for various organizations, but I can’t chair that committee or board, unless its a committee for diversity, or a board of mostly minorities. There’s still a societal bias that minorities cannot lead, or cannot lead anyone other than other minorities.

    Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady (both great, Super Bowl winning QBs) yell at their offensive coordinators and coaches every year. Analysts talk about how that shows their competitive fire. When Cam Newton does it, it shows a lack of discipline and a lack of leadership from him.

    That bias seeps into the business world as well.

    I once knew a guy that would storm through his office regularly yelling at his subordinates - he was regarded as a guy who “knew how to get things done.” I could never do that, because its not my personality, but also because people would see my yelling as a lack of self control, undermining my leadership.

  • @drgnslayr

    Rupp and Kentucky had tried to get black players such as Wes Unseld and a couple of others that escape me just now, but players stayed away from Kentucky more so because of the local environment that was similar to that in the deep South than sports, even when Rupp was known to the be a racist, but by and large, most schools had already and freely taken black players and as I mentioned, schools like San Francisco, Cincinnati and Loyola won tittles with lineups of primarily black players as far back as 1955.

    KU’s own team included 3 black, 1 Hispanic and one white player and had been fully integrated for may years. In many ways, athletics were way ahead of society at the time. Even when Wilt came to KU in 1956, the town still had a lot of racism but the sport had already seen past it and by 1965 it was not that big of a deal.

    The movie Glory Road had more to do with racism within society at large and less so with sports. Racism still exists in our society today even whens sports are fully integrated. Many of the racial events depicted in the movie were greatly exaggerated for effect or never happened in the first place as it has been extensively documented. Had it not taken so many liberties it could have really been a movie that would be used as a historical reference.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Agreed… but it was a bigger factor in the south.

  • @drgnslayr

    No doubt, racism is till big in some parts of the South.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Racism is still alive and well in the north too.

  • @wissox

    Racism has no color and exists everywhere, in some places more so than others.

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