AAAC, Pitt Athletics to Host May 10 Event, “Athletics at Pitt: The Forefront of a Century of Change”

Issue Date: 
May 1, 2011

In recognition of the centennial of the first African American student-athletes at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pitt Alumni Association’s African American Alumni Council (AAAC) and Pitt’s Department of Athletics will present a May 10 event titled “Athletics at Pitt: The Forefront of a Century of Change” in the Petersen Events Center.

The event will be hosted by sportscaster Bob Costas, winner of 21 Emmy Awards and one of the most celebrated figures in sports broadcasting. With NBC Sports since 1979, Costas has covered nearly every major sport and is best known for his coverage of baseball and the Olympics.

Linda Wharton Boyd, AAAC president, said, “The contributions of African Americans in every facet of the University’s life are voluminous. This first and long overdue salute to Pitt African American athletes is a tremendous source of Pitt pride that marks a milestone in the history of the University. I hope this event will lead to even more celebrations of the African American influence and contributions at Pitt.”

Wharton Boyd said the idea for the centennial celebration stemmed from her recent travels around the country to help reconnect more alumni to the University. She added that when she approached Pitt trustee Herbert P. Douglas Jr. (EDUC ’48, ’50G) about chairing the event, he suggested staging the celebration in 2011, marking a century since Pitt’s first African American student-athlete graduated.

“This is a monumental event for the University of Pittsburgh, embracing both the past and the future,” said Pitt’s Athletics Director Steve Pederson. “We are excited and honored to be welcoming back many Panther greats to this celebration.”

Douglas, a bronze medalist in the long jump at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and one of the first three African Americans to play football for Pitt in 1945, said, “The contribution of African American student-athletes has been significant in the history of the University of Pittsburgh. This event is an evening to celebrate where we are and where we have come in the last 100 years.”

Event cochairs are Dave Garnett (A&S ’71), a Pitt football player from 1968 to 1970; Pitt trustee Bryant Salter (A&S ’71), a Collegiate All-American in Track and Field, a Pitt football player from 1968 to 1970, and an NFL player from 1971 to 1976; and Jennifer Bruce Scott (NURS ’86), the second all-time leading scorer in Pitt women’s basketball history and a 1985 Kodak All-American.

The evening’s festivities will begin with a VIP and photography reception at 5:30, followed by a general reception at 6, and a formal dinner at 7. After dinner, there will be a world-premiere viewing of the documentary Athletics at Pitt: The Forefront of a Century of Change.

In recognition of their accomplishments as Panthers, all of Pitt’s former student-athletes have been invited to the celebration. Among those Pitt legends expected to attend are:

• Ruben Brown (A&S ’95), first team All-American and No. 1 selection in the 1995 NFL draft;

• Tony Dorsett (A&S ’77), NFL Hall of Famer, three-time first team All-American, and Heisman Trophy winner;

• Hugh Green (CGS ’81), three-time All-American in football, consensus four-time All-East selection;

• Bobby Grier (KGSB ’57), first African American to play in the Sugar Bowl, in 1956;

• Roger Kingdom (CGS ’85), Olympic Gold medalist in the 110 meter hurdles in both 1984 and 1988;

• Brandin Knight (A&S ’05), a two-time All-American men’s basketball player, current assistant coach for Pitt men’s basketball team;

• William R. “Billy” Knight (A&S ’74), men’s basketball All-American, 11-year NBA veteran, former executive vice president and general manager of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks;

• Julius Pegues (ENGR ’59), Pitt’s first African American men’s basketball player;

• Wanda Randolf (A&S ’80), holder of the Pitt record for rebounds (1,107) for 29 years;

• Darrelle Revis (A&S 2004), first-round NFL draft selection in 2007, All-Pro cornerback for New York Jets;

• Charles Smith (A&S ’88), 10-year NBA veteran, Pitt’s all- time leading scorer;

• Trecia-Kaye Smith (EDUC ’99, SHRS ’02G), the 2007 NCAA Division I Most Outstanding Student-Athlete, winner of seven national and Big East titles in track and field; and

• Marcedes Walker (CGS ’08), all-time leading rebounder in Pitt women’s basketball history.