University of Wyoming’s “Black 14” to Receive NCAA Inspiration Award
Written by Andrew-Rossi on December 7, 2022
14 African American men and University of Wyoming alums are being recognized for the act of protest in 1969 that ended their football careers but empowered and inspired future generations.
The Black 14 have been selected to receive a 2023 NCAA Inspiration Award at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, in January.
The Black 14 was a group of University of Wyoming football student-athletes who took a courageous stand against discrimination and racism in 1969. All 14 players joined a national effort by the Black Students’ Alliance to protest the Morman church for not allowing African American men to become priests.
The moral stand of the athletes resulted in them immediately being dismissed from their team by the head coach of the Wyoming football team, and that dismissal affected their lives forever. However, the courage and strength they showed as young men have had a positive impact on generations of people since.
A quote from Black 14 member John Griffin, in a story announcing the award on the NCAA website, speaks well for the Black 14’s character and commitment.
“We’re in our mid-70s, and it shows how resilient we are,” Griffin says. “None of us knew that then, but we all see where we are now. We prevailed. We fought a good fight for 53 years, and we came out on top.”
Members of the Black 14 will be presented their Inspiration Award at the NCAA Honors Celebration on Jan. 11 in San Antonio as part of the NCAA Convention.
The individual members of the Black 14 were: Jay Berry, Tony Gibson, John Griffin, Lionel Grimes, Mel Hamilton, Ron Hill, Guillermo Hysaw, Jim Isaac, Earl Lee, Tony McGee, Don Meadows, Ivie Moore, Joe Williams, and Ted Williams.
“During the 1969 college football season, a group of 14 young men, who were members of the Wyoming football team, stepped forward to take a stand against discrimination and racism,” says UW Athletics Director Tom Burman. “The courage they showed, standing up for what they believed was right and just, was part of a civil rights movement that made the lives of future generations better. I believe their actions as college students exemplify the criteria established for the NCAA Inspiration Award.
“In spite of the severe impact their courageous act had on their immediate and long-term futures, members of the Black 14 went on to lead successful and productive lives and become an inspiration for future generations.”
The Black 14 were selected for the honor as they embodied the criteria established for the NCAA Inspiration Award, which states: “A former varsity letter winner at an NCAA institution who, when confronted with a life-altering situation, used perseverance, dedication, and determination to overcome the event and most importantly, now serves as a role model to give hope and inspiration to others in similar situations.”