Jerry LeVias, Warren McVea and Leon Burton are major figures in college football history, but their accomplishments aren’t widely celebrated these days, even at their alma maters. The story of college football integration in the 1960s was ignored by sportswriters of the era, and schools saw little upside to trumpet their racial accomplishments.
The stories of these groundbreaking college football pioneers and the coaches who fought for integration—led by Michigan State’s Duffy Daugherty and his coaching tree, featuring the likes of Dan Devine, Chuck Fairbanks and Bill Yeoman—are compiled for the first time in The Right Thing to Do: The True Pioneers of College Football Integration. From award-winning journalist Tom Shanahan, The Right Thing to Do addresses the unofficial racial quota system in the 1960s college football world and the “Conspiracy of Silence” in the sports press, avoiding any mention of racial politics. It also addresses carefully crafted but totally false myths from the era, including the role of Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant in college football integration—a role where Bryant was a laggard, not a leader.
“Tom Shanahan has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to writing about race relations in sport—dating to the great, integrated Duffy Daugherty teams of the 1960s. The Right Thing to Do is another example of his unique ability to go inside stories that need to be told in rich detail.”—John Feinstein, best-selling author of 44 books, most recently Raise a Fist, Take a Knee
“Tom Shanahan’s The Right Thing to Do is an important, timely and well-researched contribution to the study of sports and race in America. In breaking the ‘conspiracy of silence’ that has existed since the days of segregation, Shanahan elevates the stories of the players and coaches who changed the face of college sports into their rightful place in history.”—Andrew Maraniss, New York Times-bestselling author, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South
“One of the great beauties of The Right Thing to Do is author Tom Shanahan unflinchingly names names. He shows us the good people and hidden figures who did the important work of integrating college football and calls out the obstructionists who were on the wrong side of history. The glory and the shame of it all is here, researched in painstaking detail.”—Johnette Howard, author of The Rivals and co-author of All In: An Autobiography by Billie Jean King
This is technically a 2024 release–set to be available on a wider basis Jan. 1–but you’re being offered an exclusive presale. Now through the end of the year The Right Thing to Do is available only from the August Publications website. We’ll be following up with paperback sales on Amazon and Ingram on Jan. 1, 2024, as well as eBook versions from the August Publications website, Amazon, Apple and B&N.
The Right Thing to Do: The True Pioneers of College Football Integration focuses on three big stories:
- His peers considered Michigan State’s Duffy Daugherty a pioneer, but the true extent of his impact on college football integration is still being uncovered. Michigan State players represented an overwhelming 41 percent share of Black players throughout the nation to win a 1960s national championship ring, according to the titles voted upon by AP and United Press International. Daugherty’s coaching tree heavily impacted the college football game, going back to Dan Devine taking the reins at Arizona State, and the mentoring of Duffy’s Disciples, like Jimmy Raye and Sherman Lewis, reverberates today with subsequent generations of college and professional coaches. The photo above shows Daugherty with five returning All-American players in 1966 (L-R): Clinton Jones, Bob Apisa, Bubba Smith, Gene Washington and George Webster. (Courtesy Michigan State University.)
- Student activism was key to progress in the Civil Rights Era, and that trend was reflected on the college football front—even when coaches did not respond well to activism. Sportswriters were unwilling to report on such efforts, such as when Colorado’s 1961 Big Eight champions declined an invitation to the Orange Bowl, wanting assurances that every player—Black and white alike—would be staying at the same hotels and eating at the same restaurants, practices not taking place in the segregated South. Student uprisings also put a halt to Bear Bryant’s backdoor effort to place his segregated Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1962 Rose Bowl, an effort called out by UCLA players and the Los Angeles Times’ Jim Murray—the only sportswriter in the country to cover the ill-fated effort.
- The groundbreaking players who braved the prejudice and abuse of the era: SMU’s Jerry LeVias, the first Black scholarship player in the Southwest Conference; Houston’s Warren McVea, the first Black player to sign with a major Texas college; Wake Forest’s Bob Grant and Kenneth “Butch” Henry, the first Black scholarship players in a major Southern conference; and Gary Steele, West Point’s first Black football letterman.
Award-winning author Tom Shanahan is a veteran sportswriter specializing in college football and, specifically, the integration of college football in the 1960s. He’s also written for NFL.com, Chargers.com, MLB.com, Rivals.com, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the National Football Foundation’s Football Matters. His book Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the Integration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans explains Duffy Daugherty’s pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant. His dedication to increasing awareness of college football integration’s true 1960s pioneers led to a 2022 First Place Award in Enterprise Writing from the Football Writers Association of America. His deeply researched article covered the 1962 Rose Bowl, when UCLA’s eight Black players and Los Angeles Times sportswriter Jim Murray stood up to segregationist Alabama coach Bear Bryant seeking a backdoor entry into the Rose Bowl in place of the traditional Big Ten entry.
The Right Thing to Do: The True Pioneers of College Football Integration
Foreword by Ruffin McNeill
Trade paperback, $22.95