The Color Barrier
In 1948, Harold Robinson graduated from Manhattan High School and prepared to become Kansas State's first black student-athlete. After sitting out the 1948 season as all freshmen were required, K-State head coach Ralph Graham in 1949 made Robinson the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship in the Big Seven Conference.
Robinson was named an All-Conference center in 1950, his junior season, despite playing for a 1-9-1 K-State team. Robinson gained the considerable respect of opponents and fans despite the smoldering racism that was so pervasive during his playing days. He wasn't allowed to stay at the same hotel as his teammates on many road trips, instead staying in private residences. Hoyt Givens did not play in 1949, but joined Robinson on the varsity in 1950 as a non-scholarship player.
Following Robinson as a barrier breaker in Big Seven baseball in 1952 was Earl Woods, the father of golf superstar Tiger Woods. Other K-Stater's instrumental in breaking down the color barrier were Gene Wilson in basketball in 1952, Veryl Switzer, Wilson, Norman Mills, Clifford Bizek and Herman Wilson in track in 1953 and Don Harris in tennis in 1952. Switzer earned All-America honors in football and went on to be the fourth player selected in the NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers in 1954.