On the eve of tomorrow’s SEC showdown between first-place LSU and second-place Auburn, here’s a Black History Month lookback at the integration of LSU basketball by Collis Temple—through excerpts from Remember Henry Harris:

Page 108 [1969]
At LSU, three years had passed since Press Maravich, Pete’s father, became the coach and announced he wanted to recruit blacks before LSU President John Hunter quickly rebuked him, claiming, “My coach was misquoted.” Maravich had even asked John Sibley Butler, a black LSU student, to walk on the team before giving up on the idea. Despite the pro basketball talent growing up in Louisiana in the 1960s—Willis Reed, Elvin Hayes, Bob “Butterbean” Love, Don Chaney—Maravich would wait five years to integrate his program, but he still would be ahead of the LSU football program.

LSU was a puppet of Louisiana state government, which had been the South’s most virulent state in reaction to Brown v. Board. When Southwestern Louisiana signed three black players in 1966, the state board of education withheld their scholarships, prompting Coach Beryl Shipley to get the local black community to pay the players’ tuition, room, and board, which landed the team on probation with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Page 191 [1972]
Against LSU, [Harris] had fourteen points, seven rebounds, and six assists, played the entire game, and, as usual, guarded 6-foot-7, 245-pound All-SEC center Al “Apple” Sanders. “Henry could do a number on the big guys,” Lynn liked to brag. With Johnson scoring thirteen points at LSU, Auburn’s top two scorers were black—a first—but Johnson would play sparingly the rest of the season.

LSU finally had a black player, 6-foot-8 Collis Temple Jr. Governor John McKeithen had promised Temple his door would be open if he encountered problems, but McKeithen had no idea the state of Louisiana had paid the tuition of Collis Temple Sr. to Michigan State in the 1950s just to keep him out of LSU’s graduate school. LSU did not admit a black undergraduate until 1964, and Temple Jr. had to wrestle regularly with the old days.

Just three weeks before the Auburn game—during a Christmas Day practice preparing for a game against Houston—LSU coach Press Maravich called Houston’s players “jumping jungle bunnies.” “He was talking about how they would block shots . . . and they could jump,” Temple said. Maravich talked to Temple after practice, saying, “I didn’t really mean nothing by that. That wasn’t directed at you, and I need you to know that you are a credit to your race,” according to Temple. “In other words,” Temple said, “your race ain’t s—, but you’re all right.”

Page 313
LSU’s first black basketball player, Collis Temple Jr., whose father was barred from attending LSU graduate school, earned a graduate degree from LSU. His sons, Garrett and Collis III, realizing the sacrifice of their father and grandfather, chose to play basketball for LSU.

Collis Temple, author interview, circa Spring 1980
Marc J. Spears, “Inside Collis Temple’s…,” theundefeated.com, February 8, 2017
Wayne Federman and Marshall Terrill, Pete Maravich, 2006, 96
“John Sibley Butler,” LSU Magazine, Summer 1997