Don Haskins, the beloved coach famous for smashing racial barriers in college basketball during the 1960s, died yesterday at age 78, reports the El Paso Times. Haskins, one of the winningest coaches in the history of collegiate basketball, is best known for his groundbreaking decision to start five black players in the 1966 NCAA championship game between Texas Western and the all-white, heavily favored University of Kentucky.
"At that time, there weren't many teams in the South or Southwest that had African-Americans playing,” said a former NCAA coach. “It really changed after that.” The 2006 film Glory Road depicts Texas Western’s unexpected rise to win the 1966 finals. “With no recruiting base, no media attention and substandard budgets” the school “had no business winning much of anything,” writes one observer.