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Larry Robinson chose to become a Longhorn despite Texas’ reputation as a white, football school and set the standard for future African-American basketball players at the University. He played a key part in the integration of the program.

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series about the racial integration of Texas’ men’s basketball team. Part one, which was published Wednesday, told the story of the first African-American basketball players to come to Texas. To read the first story, click here.

At Hobbs High School in 1970 in Hobbs, New Mexico, Larry Robinson was expecting royalty.

As a standout basketball athlete his senior year, a variety of colleges recruited Robinson. But Leon Black, Texas’ then-head coach, and his assistants stopped by his school to make their pitch.

“We decided we were going after Larry Robinson, and that’s who we wanted,” Black said. “We needed people with athletic ability.”

Robinson, a tall yet thin basketball player, was one of the best players in the southwest region at the time. After minimal production early in his high school career, he became a starter his senior season and gained the attention of multiple colleges. And, in 1970, he would become the first black player to sign a letter of intent for Texas basketball, helping to integrate the Longhorns after a long process of integration through the 1960s.

When Robinson first decided to play at Texas, he received mixed feedback. But Texas’ legacy as a predominantly white institution and mainly a football school didn’t bother him.

“When I decided to go to Texas, people said, ‘Larry, why wouldn’t you go to a basketball school?’” Robinson said.  

Robinson would soon change their minds. As a freshman, he averaged 33.9 points and 16.8 rebounds per game. He started in all 16 games, even recording 55 points in a single contest against TCU.

“In Austin, he was like a celebrity,” freshman teammate Rick Kruger said. “He made friends with everybody and, in my opinion, he handled everything pretty well.”

During the 1971–1972 season, he led Texas to its first Southwest Conference championship and an appearance in the Midwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The 1973 media guide said Robinson “lived up to extremely high expectations, … acclaimed by some to be the best ever at Texas.” 

The idea of spearheading Texas’ basketball integration didn’t faze Robinson. He grew up in a family that didn’t put much emphasis on race. He went to integrated schools starting in the third grade, interacting and playing with white athletes growing up.

But when he started at Texas during the 1970–1971 season, one of Robinson’s first encounters with his new teammates freshman year gave him an early introduction to the team’s dynamic. Early in the season, after practice ended one day, Robinson and Kruger, a white student, snuck back into Gregory Gymnasium to play what would become a vicious one-on-one game after arguing in practice.

“It got so physical,” Robinson said. “We started fighting. We went down to the dressing room and were fighting all the way down there.”

Once things settled, Robinson realized he had missed dinner at his dining hall. But Kruger, who lived in the brand-new Dobie Center at the time, invited him to eat, and the two soon became friends, a sign of the decreasing racial tensions at Texas.

“We hit it off,” Kruger said. “I was certainly naive. I didn’t even know calling a black person ‘boy’ was insulting terminology. I had just never been around black people.”

While Robinson got along with his teammates, he said he saw discrimination and racism as an African-American athlete. During games, he would hear derogatory names, but the prejudice never
bothered him.

“It was always going to be difficult because of the racial tension,” Robinson said. “But you have to see past that, and I think I saw past that at an early age. I didn’t use that as a crutch.”

Robinson now lives in Sweden after a long career as a European professional player, but he has no regrets about his time with the Longhorns.  

“I don’t regret coming to Texas,” Robinson said. “To me, it actually seemed like destiny.”

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced on Monday he has donated his political and professional papers to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies at UT. The donation will help the Briscoe Center continue to expand their political collection.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Monday he has donated his political and professional papers to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies. 

Richardson’s papers — his letters, and press releases and news clippings from throughout his political career — will help the Briscoe Center expand its political collection, according to Ben Wright, public affairs officer for the Center.

“The Richardson collection fits in with some of the other collections we have, [from] congressmen and even Texas governors,” Wright said. “Adding his collection helps us continue to grow.”

The collection coming to UT consists of 300 boxes of material currently being processed and catalogued at the Collections Deposit Library on campus.

Wright said Center officials began attempting to acquire Richardson’s collection about a year ago, and said they are happy to continue developing the center’s existing collections. 

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico State University began pursuing Richardson’s documents back in 2008. New Mexico State University spokesman Justin Bannister said at the time, Richardson told the university he would respond to their request for the documents, but he never did.

Cinnamon Blair, spokesperson for the University of New Mexico, said University officials did not try to acquire the collection.

“The University of New Mexico has never pursued those particular papers, and Gov. Richardson never contacted UNM to discuss leaving them to the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections,” Blair said.

In accordance with New Mexico state law, papers from Richardson’s days as governor must go the New Mexico State Archives. Wright said he feels the items that should be in the archives according to state law are already there. 

Wright said he believes the Center is a better location for the documents because it has digital collections and allocates Smith Research Travel Awards, so that researchers outside of Austin can come see the collections.

“With these collections here at the Center, we are working to digitize collections, so students and other researchers can access this information across the country,” Wright said.   

During Richardson’s time as governor from 2003–2011, New Mexico improved in clean energy, education, transportation, healthcare and immigration and succeeded $1 billion in tax cuts for the citizens. 

Richardson also served as a U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy for President Bill Clinton.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Rep. Molly White (R-Belton) filed a bill that, if passed, would allow private business owners to refuse business to people based on the owner’s religion or on “conscientious grounds.” 

HB 2553, filed Friday, would edit the State Business and Commerce code and prevent private business owners from being compelled to provide goods and services that are “in violation of that business owner’s sincerely held religious or personal beliefs.” It would also remove owner liability for refusing goods or service based on these same grounds.

White said the bill was a response to cases across the nation in which private business owners were sued after refusing to serve customers, citing a 2007 New Mexico case and 2013 Oregon case. 

In 2013, the owner of an Oregon cake shop refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and was fined for her actions. In another case, a New Mexico photographer refused to take commitment ceremony photos for same-sex couple Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth in 2007. New Mexico ruled the case as discriminatory.

“Certain small business owners, private business owners, are being sued for refusing service to people who violate their conscientious beliefs, their religious beliefs,” White said.  “We just want to put some protective measures here in our great state of Texas — giving private business owners religious liberties without fear.”

Rev. Michael Diaz from Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church said he believes the bill will undermine non-discrimination ordinances in Texas cities. Currently there are non-discrimination ordinances in Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Plano, Houston and San Antonio. He said he is worried the bill’s vagueness will lend itself to discrimination of the LGBT community, single moms and ethic, racial and religious minorities, among other groups.

“It is troubling when we go back to the idea that the reason why we discriminate is because of religious freedom,” Diaz said. “If you want to discriminate, just call it discrimination. Don’t call it religious freedom.”

White said private business owners could refuse to provide services to those carrying concealed handguns, those who smoke in a business, or those who violate beliefs, such as those exemplified in the New Mexico and Oregon cases.

“Every individual has rights and liberties to serve whom they want to based on religious convictions,” White said. “That’s pretty much just trying to reinforce my belief system on that.”

White’s bill will encourage discrimination of LGBT community, according to Rogelio Meza, biology senior and Queer Students Alliance co-director. 

“The LGBT community will be greatly affected by this because, not only do we go through discrimination on a daily basis, but this bill is basically encouraging Texas to say, ‘Hey, discriminate, because we’re not going to do anything to you,’” Meza said.

White is no stranger to controversy this legislative session. White drew criticism for a Facebook status she posted Jan. 29 during Texas Muslim Capitol Day, an annual event hosted by the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Muslims to voice their legislative priorities and advocate for religious tolerance. In the status, White asked Muslim visitors to publicly pledge allegiance to the United States.

Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) said he believes this bill does not reflect Texas as a whole.

“This bill comes from the same freshman state representative who made national headlines during Muslim Day at the Capitol,” Rodriguez said in an email. “This type of legislation is hateful and does not reflect Texas values.”

Senior Ashley Spencer looks to improve her No. 2 ranking in the 400 meters this weekend in Lexington, Kentucky.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas indoor track and field team will split up for two meets this weekend. Most of the team will compete in the Rod McCravy Memorial in Lexington, Kentucky, and the pole vaulters and throwers will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to participate in the Lobo Collegiate Invitational.

At the McCravy Memorial, which is typically a challenging meet with stacked fields, Texas will face off against eight men’s and women’s top-25 teams, including No. 1 Florida and Oregon, which has a second-ranked men’s team and third-ranked women’s team.

Texas is still a contender, however, bringing in the eighth-ranked men’s team and the fifth-ranked women’s team, which includes senior Ashley Spencer, junior Courtney Okolo and sophomore Kendall Baisden, who are all ranked inside the top seven for the 400 meters. In the 3,000-meter run, All-American senior Craig Lutz will compete against defending national champion Edward Cheserek from Oregon, as well as fellow All-Americans Kemoo Campbell of Arkansas and Johnny Gregorek of Oregon. Lutz also holds the second-best time in the nation this year in the 5,000 meters.

The action in Kentucky starts Friday, with combined events in the morning, field events at 2 p.m. and running events at 6:20 p.m. The SEC Network will broadcast Saturday’s events.

In New Mexico, the Longhorns will compete in the shot put, weight throw and pole vault at the Lobo Collegiate Invitational. Junior Ryan Crouser looks to start his trek toward a national champion repeat in the shot put. Arizona and Stanford are two of the prominent teams competing in these events.

The Lobo Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, starts at 11 a.m. Friday.

Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

Over winter break, Daily Texan photographers documented their travels around the world. The photographers had a personal take on their environment, whether they were in New Mexico or Thailand or elsewhere. Follow @thedailytexan on Instagram to see more of their work.

Evaluating Texas commit Zach Gentry

To many fans, the future of the Longhorns might not be on the Forty Acres just yet.

He might be sitting in a high school English class in New Mexico, waiting to head to football practice or wondering about a homecoming date. The future of Longhorn football could be 4-star QB commit Zach Gentry of El Dorado, New Mexico.

Gentry is currently rated as the No. 6 pocket passer in the country by ESPN and Rivals, and a quick study of his highlight reel shows why.

Gentry displays great accuracy, coupled with sling-shot like arm strength, which allows him to fit his throws into whatever tight windows a defense gives him. Normally with such a tall QB, it is assumed that there is no run threat involved. That’s not true with Gentry. He has been impressive as a runner in zone-read and option situations, and once he gets going downhill with his long strides he can be hard to bring down. He also displays good vision of the field, with the ability to see past his first and second progressions to keep a play alive.

One of Gentry's biggest attributes is also his main weakness. While his height gives him an advantage when it comes to field vision, Gentry couldn't be counted on to be able to get out of pressure from a quick defensive line using his feet. He will also have to worry about being able to withstand the lower body blows that he will be experiencing. His footwork will definitely need help once he gets on campus, as he has problems with stutter stepping when coming out of the gun. While Gentry is clearly not being recruited as a dual-threat guy, his footwork issues and quickness can only be improved by closer coaching.

Proof of Gentry’s potential is littered all over his stat sheet. Just a few Fridays ago, Gentry went off for 444 yards of total offense-- all in the second half alone. Down 18 points to Mayfield, another undefeated 6-A powerhouse, at the start of the third quarter, the third-year letterman threw for 189 yards and one touchdown, while showing off his versatility by rushing for 255 yards and five touchdowns to lead his team to victory in double overtime. Gentry scored the winning 2-point conversion in that game, and described his performance as “awesome” in terms of the numbers he was able to put up and the come from behind victory.

Gentry is the kind of quarterback Texas assistant head coach for the offense Shawn Watson could work wonders with. His huge frame gives him the ability to easily see over the kind of big offensive linemen Watson likes to utilize, while adding an extra zip to the ball a smaller quarterback wouldn't have. Currently at a slim 230 pounds , Gentry could easily add 15 to 20 pounds with a college level strength program to enhance his ability to absorb hits in the pocket without jeopardizing his running ability.

While Gentry never looks to run first, his big arm can back a defense up so much that he is able to use his athleticism to rip off for long yard touchdown runs, like the two 80-yard runs he had against Mayfield.

Watson originally recruited him while still at Louisville, while still helping first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater finish up his stellar career with the Cardinals. If Watson can work the same kind of magic with this tall kid from New Mexico, it could be fun to watch the Longhorn offense in a couple of years.

Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman is ready to take Texas back to the top. After last season’s Final Four exit, Eckerman and the Longhorns are ready to get the season under way.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

As a middle blocker and center in high school, junior middle blocker Sara Hattis made quite the name for herself in New Mexico. In her time at Cleveland High School, just outside of Albuquerque, Hattis garnered All-State honors in both volleyball and basketball, was an Under Armour All-American honorable mention in volleyball and led her volleyball team to the state finals.

Now in her junior year at Texas, Hattis is returning home when the Longhorns compete in the Lobo Classic this weekend and can’t wait to show off her home state to her teammates.

“It’s an exciting experience to bring your team back to where you’re from and show them what you did and grew up with your whole life,” Hattis said.

Raised in Rio Rancho, about 20 minutes outside of Albuquerque, Hattis was a multi-sport star in high school. In addition to her honors in basketball and volleyball, she also succeeded in track and field, placing second at state in the high jump her senior year.

Returning to her home state, Hattis is a key part on a Longhorn team looking to contend again for the national title after missing out on a chance to repeat as champs a year ago. The tournament is Texas’ first competitive match since suffering a heart-wrenching defeat to Wisconsin in the Final Four last December.

As tough as the loss was, Hattis said it was a good learning moment for the team.

“We have to be able to take every game seriously and not let down and think it’s going to be an easy game,” Hattis said.

That includes this weekend. While Texas comes in ranked second in the AVCA Coaches poll, none of the other teams in the tournament are in the top 25 and only one, New Mexico, received votes in the poll.

The Longhorns bring in a team loaded with talent, despite losing four players from last year’s team because of graduation. Along with the usual suspects in senior outside hitters Haley Eckerman and Khat Bell, Texas brought in two top freshmen in libero Cat McCoy and defensive specialist Kate Palladino.

With the top players whom they have, head coach Jerritt Elliottt plans on moving to a 6-2 formation, keeping a libero in the back row at all times with the hope of that opening up the offense. 

“With us running the players that we have, we have the ability this year that’s a lot more comfortable than it’s ever been,” Elliott said.

Texas will get a chance to try out the new system against three teams that struggled in 2013. New Mexico is the only other team in the tournament to boast a winning record last year but still missed out on the postseason. The other two, UTEP and Seattle, combined for a 27-36 record.

Even with the lower level of competition to open the season, Elliott said they’re ready to start competing against someone other than themselves.

“They’ve been pushing each other a lot,” Elliott said. “It will be great to see somebody else across the net and see kind of where we’re at at this point.”

Men's Tennis

The Texas track and field program competed at both the Razorback Invitational and the Bill Bergan Invitational over the weekend, posting strong results without sending complete squads.

The short-distance women went to Ames, Iowa, for the Bergan Invitational and won each of the four events they entered.

But the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Fayetteville, where senior distance runner Sara Sutherland won the women’s 3,000-meter in convincing fashion with the third-best time in school history.

“[Sutherland] knocked it out of the park,” head coach Mario Sategna said. 

Sutherland led the entire race and finished 18 seconds ahead of second-place teammate, senior Marielle Hall.

Sophomore Zack Bilderback dominated the men’s competition as he won the 400-meter at the Bergan invitational with a personal-best time of 46.98. 

The squad will return to Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

Women's Tennis

The wind persisted throughout Texas’ meeting against Stanford, ultimately blowing in favor of the Cardinal, as the team beat the Longhorns, 6-1.

No. 17 Texas (3-1) came into this match without losing more than one point against its first three opponents.

The Cardinal, ranked No. 1, fared better than that, with no points lost through its first two matches.

Stanford claimed the doubles point with wins by its two top-16 tandems. No. 15 Kristie Ahn/Carol Zhao knocked off No. 21 Breaunna Addison/Pippa Horn, 6-2.

Senior Elizabeth Begley dropped her match at No. 2 singles (6-2, 6-0). Freshmen Neda Koprcina and Horn lost their matches as well, giving Stanford the victory.

Though the match was already decided, freshman Ratnika Batra continued her round against No. 34 Caroline Doyle. Batra prevented a Cardinal sweep with a 6-2, 6-3 win.

The Longhorns will travel to Charlottesville, Va., on Friday to compete in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.

Track and Field

The Texas track and field program competed at both the Razorback Invitational and the Bill Bergan Invitational over the weekend, posting strong results without sending complete squads.

The short-distance women went to Ames, Iowa, for the Bergan invitational and won each of the four events they entered.

But the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Fayetteville, where senior distance runner Sara Sutherland won the women’s 3,000-meter in convincing fashion with the third-best time in school history.

“[Sutherland] knocked it out of the park,” head coach Mario Sategna said in a statement. 

Sutherland led the entire race and finished 18 seconds ahead of second-place teammate, senior Marielle Hall.

Sophomore Zack Bilderback dominated the men’s competition as he won the 400-meter at the Bergan invitational with a personal-best time of 46.98. 

The squad will return to Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

Track and Field Recap

By Grant Gordon

The Texas track and field program competed in the Cherry and Silver Collegiate Invitational over the weekend, a two-day, unscored event hosted by the University of New Mexico.

Only 32 Longhorn athletes, including 14 first-time performers, competed in the 31-team meet.

After missing last indoor season because of injury, sophomore thrower Ryan Crouser returned to action with an impressive season debut. Crouser won the outdoor shot put title in June and is the favorite to take home the indoor championship as well.

His first meet didn’t disappoint. Crouser won the shot put easily, eclipsing the next competitor by more than five feet with a throw of 20.42 meters and nearly beating the school record of 20.50 meters.

For the women, senior sprinter Danielle Dowie finished sixth in the 400 meters with a time of 54.32 seconds in her first appearance of the season.


Women’s Tennis Recap

By Chris Caraveo 

The Longhorns persevered through a number of tiebreaks to beat Rice on Sunday, advancing to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.

The final score read 4-1, but the matches were much closer than the scoreboard indicated.

No. 17 Texas (3-0) swept the doubles matches to gain the 1-0 advantage. Then, in singles, freshman Neda Koprcina beat Owl Liat Zimmerman in straight sets to put the Longhorns up 2-0.

Both sophomore Breaunna Addison and senior Elizabeth Begley went to third-set super tiebreaks in their respective singles matches. Addison and Beazant alternated points before Addison broke through with the 10-8 decision.

Begley clinched the match for Texas with her own 10-8 third-set win over Dominique Harmath. The senior held off Harmath’s comeback while up 8-5.

The two points were crucial for the Longhorns to maintain control of their own destiny. 

The team hosts top-ranked Stanford on Friday.


Men's Tennis Recap

By Chris Caraveo

With a third-set tiebreaker in the No. 6 singles, junior Clement Homs rallied from a 5-2 deficit to advance the Longhorns to the
indoor championship.

Trumping Vanderbilt 4-0 Saturday, No. 20 Texas continued to avoid losing a single point in
dual-match play. 

On Sunday, No. 5 Soren Hess-Olesen/Lloyd Glasspool defeated Wake Forest’s No. 30 Adam Lee/Pedro Dumont to clinch the doubles point, a day after knocking off the nation’s No. 2 duo.

Sophomore Nick Naumann upped the Texas lead to 2-0 with a straight set win over Dumont. Junior Hess-Olesen followed with an upset of No. 20 Romain Bogaerts.

But when Glasspool fell in straight sets, the Longhorns suffered their first lost points of the season. The Demon Deacons tied the match 3-all after two more victories.

That left the No. 6 singles as the deciding match. Homs lost the first set but pulled off a comeback in the second to force the tiebreaker. Down 5-2 in the third, he won four straight points and saved Texas (5-0) from defeat.

Texas will compete in the 2014 ITA National Team Indoor Championship Feb. 14-17.

In their first true non-conference road game under head coach Karen Aston, the Longhorns secured their third win of the season, 67-52, against the New Mexico Lobos. The win not only kept Texas undefeated, but also broke the tie in its all-time record with the Lobos, putting the Longhorns ahead 4-3 in the series. 

Nneka Enemkpali earned the first points of the game with a layup eight seconds in and continued to get to the basket, leading Texas on the scoreboard with 19 points. New Mexico’s Deeva Vaughn put the next points on the board about two minutes in by sinking a three, giving the Lobos a one point lead, their only lead of the game. 

Texas kept the Lobos in a steady deficit over the remaining 38 minutes. New Mexico struggled to keep up and couldn’t break Texas’ lead, ultimately losing by a 15-point margin.

Although New Mexico was more accurate shooting threes, Texas was more efficient from the field overall, shooting 43.1 percent compared to New Mexico’s 32 percent.