Mourning A Legend: Roy Skinner

by October 31, 2010

On the same weekend where we honored Earl Lloyd, one of the NBA’s first Black players, another pioneer passed. The New York Times has more: “Roy Skinner, the Vanderbilt University coach who recruited the first black athlete to play varsity basketball in the Southeastern Conference and who led the Commodores to more victories than any other coach, died Monday in Nashville. He was 80. The cause was respiratory failure, Mr. Skinner’s daughter Chris said. When Vanderbilt’s chancellor, Alexander Heard, encouraged Mr. Skinner to recruit black players in the mid-1960s, Mr. Skinner immediately began to search for suitable players and eventually recruited Perry Wallace, a high school star in Nashville. ‘I don’t think Skinner was looking to make history, but he was aware of it,’ said Andrew Maraniss, a Vanderbilt alumnus who is writing a biography of Mr. Wallace. ‘I think the most important thing to Skinner would be that Wallace was a great player, and also a great student, a valedictorian.’ Mr. Wallace, 63, said that although Mr. Skinner rarely if ever addressed the racial hostility Mr. Wallace faced, he was a calming influence during difficult times.”