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IU renames Intramural Center as the William Leon Garrett Fieldhouse


Former IU basketball head coach Branch McCracken stands with Bill Garrett in 1951. The IU Board of Trustees unanimously approved to name the Intramural Center on campus after Garrett, who was the first Black basketball player in the Big Ten. IU Archives

The Intramural Center, a basketball court and gym on IU’s campus, will be renamed in honor of former IU basketball player Bill Garrett after a unanimous vote during Friday’s meeting of IU’s Board of Trustees. 

Nearly two years after the board voted to remove segregationist Ora Wildermuth’s name from the Intramural Center, IU President Michael McRobbie announced the building would be renamed the William Leon Garrett Fieldhouse.

The Intramural Center — formerly known as The Fieldhouse — was the home to IU basketball from 1928-1960. In 2017, a state historical marker was dedicated in his honor in front of the Intramural Center.

"Appropriate signage will be placed on the building to honor this great alumnus of Indiana University and one of its true courageous leaders in the integration and acceptance of African Americans in basketball at both the collegiate and professional level," McRobbie wrote following the board’s approval of the measure.

Garrett played for the Hoosiers from 1948 to 1951 and broke the color barrier in the Big Ten when he became the first Black basketball player at IU.

Garrett twice earned All-Big Ten honors and led IU in both scoring and rebounding each year from 1949-1951. He was named an All-American as a senior in 1951, averaging 13.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while leading the Hoosiers to a 19-3 record.

After graduating from IU, Garrett was drafted to the Boston Celtics, making him the third black man to be drafted by an NBA team. However, he would never play after enlisting in the U.S. Army. Two years later, Garrett returned to basketball playing three years with the Harlem Globetrotters. 

Following his basketball career, Garrett became a teacher and coached at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, where the team won the 1959 state championship.

In 1974, Garrett was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and later in 1984 was inducted into the IU Athletics Hall of Fame.

“Congratulations to the Garrett Family today,” IU head coach Archie Miller wrote on Twitter. “Renaming William Leon Garrett Fieldhouse is such a great way to honor his legacy of integration and the impact he had on so many levels.”

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