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Racial Decision Angers Black Leaders : U. of Tenn. Urged to Demand Country Club Admission for Coach

April 10, 1989|From Times Wire Services

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Black leaders criticized a decision not to give Wade Houston, Tennessee's first black head basketball coach, a membership in an all-white country club.

Athletic Director Doug Dickey says Houston, the first black basketball coach in the Southeastern conference, will not be offered a membership in Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville.

"The university needs to take a definite stand on this," state Rep. Joe Armstrong said Sunday. "Wade Houston was a member of the country club in Louisville as an assistant coach. You mean he's going to come to the University of Tennessee and be head coach and not be extended the same privilege?"

Armstrong said the university should immediately cancel its memberships in the exclusive country club.

'The Same Opportunity'

Knoxville City Councilman Casey Jones, who became the first black member of the Dean Hill Country Club two months ago, said, "I think he should be offered and allowed to have the same opportunity as the other coaches that preceded him. If UT can do anything to make the situation different, they should."

The university athletic department has provided the $15,000 memberships to the exclusive Cherokee Country Club to Houston's predecessors, Ray Mears and Don DeVoe. Vols football coach Johnny Majors and Dickey are also members.

"Obviously, Cherokee Country Club does not have black members, and that is not an option (for Houston)," Dickey said.

Houston said he has no intention of fighting the decision.

But Houston said he and his family were members of a country club in Louisville, Ky., and said there would be advantages for the university if he belonged to the club in Knoxville.

"There are tremendous advantages for a college basketball coach with a program of the magnitude of the University of Tennessee's to have a place to take high school coaches who come in and want to play golf, if you can legally do those things.

"I was accepted in the club here (Louisville). Everybody wants to monitor the membership and have the kind of club they can be proud of. If that happens, that's great. If not, I'm not going to make an issue of it."

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