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"Peace and Tranquility: NCAA Style": article draft by Roosevelt Fitzgerald




1990 (year approximate) to 1992 (year approximate)


From the Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers (MS-01082) -- Drafts for the Las Vegas Sentinel Voice file. On Black Runnin' Rebels Augmon, Johnson, Hunt, Young, Scurry etc.

Digital ID



man000992. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers, 1890-1996. MS-01082. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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OCR transcription





The last time I saw Atlanta was in the spring of 1977. I'll never forget that trip. That year the Final Four of NCAA basketbass coincided perfectly with our Spring Break here at UNLV. I was there for six days and saw much of the city and the surrounding area. The big ticket item, however, was the two days of basketball; Saturday and Monday. The Saturday contests pitted Marquette University against North Carolina Charlotte and the second game saw our "original" Runnin1 Rebels with "Easy" Eddie, "Sudden" Sam, "Big" Lew, "Gondo, Robert and "Dr. T" Tony Smith, Reggie and Boyd Batts going against the University of North Carolina.
I remember how disinterested I was in the first game and as I wandered around the Omni, apparently so too were many others. Those many others were not just Las Vegans or Nevadans. There were many others from around the country and many of them approached me and other red clad Rebel supporters and inquired of the team. "Are they really that good?" "Do they really run that much?" "Do they really score so many points?" The questions seemed to be never-ending and the answer was always the same; Yes. That year, even without the three point shot and we had four guys who could bomb from NBA range, we averaged 110 points per game.
With all the excitement, there was a gloom in the air. The NCAA, with hatchet in hand, stood at the ready to chop us into mincemeat. We lost to North Carolina due to what I've always believed was the worst officiated game in collegiate history. We didn't complain. We packed our bedrolls and Rebel fans left Atlanta chanting; "Next year. Next year. Next year!!" We were so confident that we would be at the Checkerdome in St. Louis the following year for the final four in spite of the loss of six players who were eventually drafted by the NBA, that many of us arranged for tickets and hotels upon our return to Las Vegas. The NCAA undoubtedly sensed it also because, within a few monghs, we were placed on two years probation.
We didn't like the probation but we stood it. Reggie left and joined the NBA. We had good seasons the following two years but it was like coitus interruptus; what's the point. The first year of probation we won twenty and lost eight and the second year we won twenty one and lost eight. Even with no destination, the team was able to hold together and provide rebel fans some solace while in the vice-grip of the NCAA. Then it was over. Well, at least, we thought it was over. Thirteen years later, the NCAA would come back with barred fangs ready to suck another bucket of blood.
During those years, the NCAA seem to have as its target all of the "no name" schools who were making names for themselves. Today it is difficult to remember who those other schools were. They were slapped down and they've all but disappeared. They didn't understand that they must be prepared and willing to get up one more time than they're knocked down. The Rebels have always understood that. They have understood that because of the values of their upbringing and the influence of coach Tarkanian and his staff. I don't know if you'll agree with this or not and it really doesn't matter but the Rebels have always been treated by the NCAA in much the same way that black people are treated by the USA. The Rebels, like Black Americans, do not expect fair play and justice and rarely, if ever, do they get it.
Anyone who was surprised by the NCAA's decision of July 20th do not understand prejudice and discrimination. If we attempt to understand this melodrama in any other terms we're barking up the wrong tree. The perception of Las Vegas as "sin city" enables the "johnny-be-goods" to do what they do to us. Who will come to our defense? Surely not a certain governor of Colorado who said one out of every three women in Las Vegas is a hooker. Definitely not the Supreme Court Justice who was to be a speaker at a meeting of the National Bar Association who said that Las Vegas is filled with crooks. Certainly not a Louisiana Senator who is spearheading attempts to put a nuclear waste depository in our state. By no means the Defense Department
who seeks to bribe us with a few crumbs or with threats to take away Stealth or an atom smasher here because, seemingly, of our unwilliness to accept the nuclear waste of the remainder of the country. This is the way it is with black people. Who will come to our defense? The Review Journal which never passes up an opportunity to take a cheap shot at every black person—especially Rev. Jesse Jackson—who has the audacity to speak out against racial injustices? A school district that is undoing all of the gains made by former Superintendent Dr. Claude Perkins? Sure, I know you don't like Perkins but he saw to it that more black teachers and administrators in the history of the state were hired during his tenure. Do you expect the up-and-coming university with only five black faculty members out of a force of approximately 500 do come to the defense of black people? A state beauracy that has only rarely appointed a black person to a state commission that has something to do beyond racial issues? A Supreme Court which is backsliding on those few gains blacks made two decades ago? A Congress which is more and more looking the other way when it comes to racial problems? A President who change his lip sync so long as he doesn't change his perception of blacks? Who'll come to black people defence?
When the Rebels won the National Championship a few months ago, the entire state was able to stick its chest out. I know I did. Coach Tarkanian said that the victory was "mostly for the great people of the state of Nevada" and, to my memory, that was the first time I had ever heard anyone refer to Nevada's population as "...great people..." It brought tears to my eyes. When I saw that banner come down with my school's name on it I had to walk away and just stare out into the darkness of the night.' What else was it that coach said? You remember; "You know, Nevadans get knocked a lot..." We do get knocked and if we happen to be black and live in Nevada we get knocked by everybody--even fellow Nevadans. We are made to feel like Rodney Dangerfield; we get no respect. Yet, many of those same people expect the
NCAA to respect them. Those who will not give justice expect to get it. How cediculous.
Ok. I know. There are exceptions. If you're black and an entertainment celebrity, at least the knocks do not come in your presence or in the media unless you happen to be on somebody's "back pocket list." Obviously the black members of the team are not knocked—not directly. But, you must remember, the members of the team are not referred to as blacks—only as Rebels. You know I like those young men. Flash back to an earlier issue of "The Sentinel." Still, have you ever heard a television personality or read in the newspapers or magazines references to Augmon, Johnson, Anthony, Hunt, Butler, Young, Scurry, Jeter or the others as being black. No. Their color designation is lost on the basketball court. Sorta reminds you of something from Spike Lee's film; "Do The Right Thing." Remember the scene having to do with the absence of the use of racial slurs in regards to Magic Johnson? You get the picture. A few weeks ago Zina Garrison was called an American while she was winning at Wimbledon.
This is running much longer than I had anticipated. I'll finish it next
week. Maybe.