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Larry MacIntyre
University Communications

Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009

Garrett-Wildermuth naming approved

Feb. 20, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University trustees today (Feb. 20) approved a recommendation to redesignate the Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center as the "William L. Garrett-Ora. L. Wildermuth Intramural Center."

The Garrett-Wildermuth Intramural Center will combine the names of Bill Garrett, IU's first black basketball player, and Ora Wildermuth, a longtime IU trustee who opposed racial integration of the university in the 1940s.

Garrett starred at IU from 1948 to 1951, earning All-American honors his senior year. He frequently demonstrated remarkable courage and strength of character in the face of open hostility from fans and players on other teams who did not welcome his presence on the playing court. It was his strength of character as much as his playing skills that enabled Garrett to break the unwritten agreement barring blacks from Big Ten play.

IU President Michael McRobbie endorsed the recommendation by a 25-member All University Committee on Names to permanently affix Garrett's name to IU Bloomington's intramural center, which was named after Wildermuth in 1971. McRobbie presented the recommendation to IU trustees in November.

The naming committee was asked by McRobbie to consider the matter of the building's name after a book about Garrett was published and revealed that Wildermuth had opposed the integration of university dormitories. The new name is intended to be a point of reference for teaching future generations of students about the university's racial history.

Garrett died in 1974 of a heart attack at the age of 45. His surviving family members were consulted about and approved the committee's recommendation.

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