University Of Wyoming Apologizes To 14 Black Football Players Kicked Off Team 50 Years Later

The 1969 team members were dismissed for wanting to protest a racist policy.

50 years. 

That’s how long it took the University of Wyoming to issue a formal apology to 14 Black members of the 1969 football team, after they were unjustly dismissed from the team for wanting to protest a racist policy.

According to CNN, the university held a commemorative week to mark the 50-year anniversary of the incident. Eight of the 11 living players were in attendance. 

In 1969, the team had a scheduled game against Brigham Young University. BYU is associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. 

At the time, CLDS had a policy prohibiting Black people from becoming priests. Students on the Wyoming campus had plans to protest outside of the stadium on game day. 

The players wanted to wear black armbands in support of the protest. When they approached head coach Bob Devaney to ask for permission, they were immediately booted from the team. 

The campus went into an uproar and demands for the players’ reinstatements were made. Three of the players came back to play for the team in 1970, three others transferred to HBCUs.

However the university never formally apologized for its unjust treatment of the dubbed “Black 14” until this past Friday (September 13th). 

The university's current athletic director, Tom Burman, read from the school’s official apology letter, and it concluded:

"Please accept this sincere apology from the University of Wyoming for the unfair way you were treated and for the hardships that treatment created for you. We want to welcome you home as valued members of this institution, and hope you accept our old Wyoming saying, 'Once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy.'"

The university unveiled a plaque at the football stadium honoring the players. The next day, the Black 14 were honored at halftime during the football game against the University of Idaho. They received a standing ovation from the crowd

Tony Gibson, a member of the Black 14 summed the experience up best, "That's all I ever wanted was an apology. That's it."

As with all crimes and mistreatment against Black people, justice is always deferred.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.