College athletes broke racial barriers
Unlike the professional athletes — who were older and, perhaps, more worldly when they broke their barriers — these college students were 17 or 18 years old when they came to our institutions of higher education to face a world of all-white athletic departments and classrooms.
Most arrived on campus because a coach thought their great athletic gifts would win over the student body and faculty. Often, it was the first time the African-American student-athletes were together with whites on an equal plane. They encountered tensions and threats, faced hateful crowds and, on occasion, even teammates who did not want to be in the huddle with them. Sometimes, they played in stadiums that flew the rebel flag.
In part, the history of the civil rights movement was played out on those fields and in those campus arenas.
Read the article at ESPN