Garrett's family objects to proposal

Updated: February 25, 2009, 9:24 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Indiana University has decided not to add the name of the Big Ten's first black basketball player to a gymnasium named for a trustee who advocated segregation in the 1940s, as the player's surviving family has objected to the arrangement.

IU trustees last week approved the addition of the late Bill Garrett's name to the Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center, believing the move had the support of Garrett's family.

"From the very start it has been our goal to recognize Bill Garrett and honor his achievements at IU," university vice president Terry Clapacs said. "We believed that we had the blessing and support of the Garrett family, but we now have learned that is not the case. So the university will respect their wishes and we will not proceed with this decision."

The proposal would have renamed the building the William L. Garrett-Ora. L. Wildermuth Intramural Center. The building served as the Hoosiers' home court during the years in which Garrett played.

Garrett, the Indiana Mr. Basketball at Shelbyville High School in 1947, played at Indiana in 1948-51, earning All-American honors his senior year, and coached Crispus Attucks High School of Indianapolis to the 1959 state championship. He died in 1974 at the age of 45.

Wildermuth was the IU board president in 1945 when he wrote a letter saying he opposed integration of the school. Wildermuth died in 1964 and the campus building was named for him in 1971. The letter came to public attention in 2006.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.