Archive for the 'All Guts No Glory' Category

Bill Elder Remembers Coach Don Haskins

Thursday, September 11th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

NAIA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elder, author of All Guts and No Glory, remembers Coach Don Haskins, who died September 7, 2008, at 87:

My first thoughts when I learned of the passing of Coach Don Haskins, long-time basketball coach at the University of Texas at El Paso (known as Texas Western for many years), was that he was a true American hero. He was well known nationally for establishing a stellar coaching record of 719 wins and 354 losses, winning a NCAA National Championship, and being inducted into the NCAA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

Despite the significance of these accomplishments, I think that Haskins’ greatest achievement was having the courage to start five black players at a predominately white institution during the 1965-66 basketball season. Many colleges (especially in the South) had not even integrated their athletic programs at this time, much less considered starting five black players. For many of the schools already integrated there seemed to be an unwritten rule related to how many black players should be permitted to start a game. The rule was that you should not start more than “three black players at home and four on the road.” It was in this culture that Coach Haskins chose to do the right thing and start his five best players, regardless of skin color. In today’s culture this does not seem like a big deal but in the 1960s it was a radical decision.

Coach Haskins’ decision not only proved to be the right one on the court where his Texas Western squad defeated the all white University of Kentucky team coached by the legendary Adolf Rupp for the national championship, but it also proved to be one of the most socially meaningful decisions in the history of sports. The victory drew attention to the egregious racially exclusionary polices practiced in the world of college athletics and changed the face of the recruitment of black athletes across the nation.

Coach Haskins was a man of exceptional courage and integrity and will be greatly missed.

Bill Elder’s All Guts and No Glory recounts his efforts to desegregate college basketball in northeast Alabama in the 1970s. All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Coach Bill Elder Comments on Don Klores’s Black Magic Documentary

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Bill Elder’s memoir All Guts and No Glory recounts Bill’s struggles to break racial barriers with a a courageous group of white and black student athletes at Northeast State Junior College in Alabama in the early 1970s. Recently Bill watched Dan Klores’s documentary Black Magic, about basketball players at historically black colleges and universities during the civil rights movement, and he shares his thoughts about the program:

Dan Klores’s Black Magic is both a painful and uplifting documentary that details how black basketball players and coaches overcame oppressive racial prejudice to make an indelible impact on the game of college basketball. Through the lens of basketball, Klores provides an honest look at the complicated and deep-seated issues of race during the days of segregation and later at a time after laws had been changed but hearts remained pretty much the same.

Klores’s work is of special interest to me since I grew up during the time of segregation and early integration and observed some of this overt racial prejudice first hand as a child and later as a college basketball player and coach. After graduating from college in the mid `60’s, I started my college basketball coaching career and recruited the first black players to a small college in Alabama. I spent most of my career coaching at NAIA schools, the NAIA being the first college athletic association to allow black players to participate. Despite the fact that the NAIA initially had restrictions on the number of black teams that could participate in their post season tournament, I am proud of the early stance (prior to that of the NCAA) that this organization took.

I was inspired by the documentary’s portrayal of the inner spirit and courage of the black players and coaches during this troubled time, a spirit that enabled them to continue playing and coaching the game that they loved despite the fact that so many doors were shut to them at the college and professional levels. The documentary gave me new insight into the role of the historically black colleges and universities during this time of limited educational and athletic opportunities for African Americans. These schools not only provided young black students a higher education but also served as a place of nurturing and mentoring – “safe houses,” as one speaker called them – during this troubled time in our country. They also served as a platform for many very creative and talented coaches to demonstrate their worth.

The documentary Black Magic exudes the sheer joy of black athletes who absolutely loved the game of basketball – players who honed their skills to perfection in less-than- adequate circumstances and then persevered through the injustice and unending frustration of racial intolerance for further opportunity to play the game.

A portion of the second part of the documentary details how the civil rights movement helped open doors for black players to play in increasing numbers at predominately white institutions throughout the nation. The most significant changes in this area, however, were in the South where college basketball teams had been totally segregated. Unfortunately, it was years before black basketball coaches were given the opportunity to serve as head coaches at predominately white schools.

One consequence of black players’ being given the opportunity to play at predominately white schools was that the tremendous talent pool that was available to coaches at historically black institutions was eventually depleted. In my opinion, the talent level at many of these schools was comparable to that of major colleges. Despite the fact that there are still a significant number of very strong teams at historically black schools, the overall talent level is not as good as it once was. The number of players from these institutions drafted to play in the NBA has significantly decreased over the years. On a positive note, the opportunity for black coaches to serve as head coaches at predominately white college as well as in the professional ranks has increased dramatically in recent years.

I think that all of us (black and white) owe the courageous black players and coaches who toiled for years under the national radar screen at historically black schools a debt of gratitude. Their efforts helped give deserving black players a venue to display their skills during a time of oppressive racial discrimination, provided significant impetus to the civil rights movement, and helped lay the groundwork for what the game of basketball has become today.

As a former college basketball coach, I have gained new insight into the plight of black players and coaches during this time in our history through Dan Klores’s documentary. I have always had deep respect for the players and coaches mentioned in this production but after watching Black Magic, I have even greater admiration for their efforts.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and local booksellers.

All Guts and No Glory Praised by Montgomery Advertiser

Monday, February 11th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Auburn University Montgomery Professor Alan Gribben has reviewed Bill Elder’s sports memoir All Guts and No Glory in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. In All Guts and No Glory, Elder tells of his work desegregating the Northeast State Junior College basketball team in 1965, and the challenges he and his players faced during that difficult time. Writes Gribben, “Elder’s All Guts and No Glory deserves a place on the short shelf of highly readable coaches’ memoirs as well as (on a higher shelf) inclusion in the stack of titles recording the toll of breaking down color barriers to create the New South.”

From the review:

Initially Elder abided by stipulated racial restrictions in recruiting his players, but in his fourth season, the college president gave Elder the green light to racially integrate his basketball team. Elder began rounding up prospective black players, hoping to emulate Vanderbilt’s decision three years earlier to abandon athletic segregation. However, he soon found that while “Scottsboro was only about a 150 miles from Nashville,” in terms of the citizens’ willingness to accept change “it might as well have been in another country.”

Two of Elder’s black signees and their white teammates were immediately taunted and assaulted with fists outside a campus-area restaurant, and a mob stormed the school looking for black basketball players. Intruders broke into the black players’ house and turned on the gas stove. Members of the Klan became so increasingly bold in their attacks that the school’s registrar suggested, “as a friend,” that Elder tell the black athletes “it would better for them to go home before someone gets seriously hurt.”

Shunned at the faculty table in the school cafeteria, Elder found that his applications for other coaching jobs brought no responses. Reluctantly he gave up his coaching job and left for Tuscaloosa to study for a doctorate to qualify himself for athletic administration. Nevertheless, “I am convinced now,” writes Elder, “that one reason God placed me on earth was to coach at Northeast State Junior College and provide an opportunity for black athletes to get a college education.”

Read the full article from the Montgomery Advertiser.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and local booksellers.

Author Bill Elder Interviewed on Kentucky Public Radio

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 by Lyndsey

Celebrated coach and author Bill Elder was recently interviewed by Dan Modlin of Kentucky Public Radio about his new memoir, All Guts and No Glory.

Modlin asserted that the book provides a unique insight into the challenges faced by athletes in that time, saying that “small college athletics doesn’t get the credit it deserves for its role in promoting racial integration during the 1970s” a view that is certainly captivated in All Guts and No Glory.

When asked if the title of the book itself was indicative of the experiences he had with his team, Elder responded, “Yes, at a Junior College we operated under the national radar screen unlike our counterparts in the NCAA division, and it was about the courage of the players and there really wasn’t a lot of glory in it.”

Click here to listen to the interview.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and local booksellers.

All Guts and No Glory Author Bill Elder to Speak June 7

Thursday, May 31st, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Former Auburn Montgomery coach Bill Elder will speak about his new book All Guts and No Glory on Thursday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m., in the Auburn University Montgomery Library (West Room, 10th floor). This is an inspiring first-person account of his experiences desegregating a college basketball team in north Alabama, which esteemed historian Wayne Flynt and author Clifton Taulbert respectively call “compelling testimony.” Light refreshments will be served.

Bill Elder has a dramatic story to tell. Picture this: a predominantly white junior college on Sand Mountain, Alabama, in the early 1970s; a directive to integrate the basketball team; faculty, staff, and administration which, by and large, did not support this endeavor; and a community known for its segregationist violence and KKK activity. This is the situation into which young Elder, a future inductee into the NAIA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame, cautiously brought several black players. He and his team faced the threats and occasional violence, but did so bravely and went on to win games, sending a positive message of acceptance and unity to the entire sports community across the state.

Please join Bill Elder and NewSouth Books in celebrating publication of All Guts and No Glory on this special occasion.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

NewSouth Books Announces Spring 2007 Book Line

Friday, September 15th, 2006 by Brian Seidman

NewSouth announces three intriguing new titles for the Spring 2007 season:

Fire Ants is the hilarious new short story collection from award-winning Coasters author Gerald Duff. Publishers Weekly has hailed the wit and subtlety in Gerald Duffs fiction as simply satisfying as a tall cold one on a hot Gulf Coast afternoon, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazetter said Gerald Duffs dialogue is among the best being written, and his sense of the absurd is Portis-like. This new collection of short stories features the Ploughshares Cohen Prize-winning story Fire Ants.

All Guts, No Glory by NAIA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elder tells how Elder and a courageous group of white and black student athletes broke racial barriers at a small college in northeast Alabama in the early 1970s. He shows vividly why he sometimes wondered whether he and his players would live through their experience. Abandoned by their school officials, the players faced constant threats and harassment and occasional violence, but they kept playing and winning games and forging bonds between themselves that lasted long after that first season was over.

The Judge : The Life and Opinions of Alabamas Frank M. Johnson, Jr., by veteran journalist Frank Sikora (Hear the Bugles Calling [2001]), remembers Judge Frank Johnson of Mongomery, Alabama, who presided over some of the most emotional hearings and trials of the civil rights movement. The black petition for full freedom began in Montgomery in Johnsons courtroom, and it would end in this city, also before Judge Johnson. This book covers many of the notable cases: the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides, school desegregation, the Selma-to-Montgomery march, and the Ku Klux Klan conspiracy case in the night-rider slaying of Viola Liuzzo.

For more information on any of these titles, please email or call NewSouth toll-free at (866) 639-7688.