Oscar Robertson - On To Cincinnati
On to Cincinnati
Robertson elected to stay close to home and attend the University of Cincinnati. He took the team by storm, leading them to the NCAA Final Four during his junior and senior years, although each time the team lost to the University of California. Still, Robertson, who came to be known as "The Big O," set fourteen NCAA records during this time and averaged nearly thirty-four points per game. He was the NCAA's top scorer three years straight, and was named both an All-American and College Player of the Year in his last three seasons. He was the first player to ever win the latter award three times in a row and in 1998 it was renamed the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
All was not smooth for Robertson, however. As the first African American to play for Cincinnati, he was subject to intense racism, especially when the team traveled in the south. As a matter of fact, he had originally wanted to attend Indiana University, but after meeting with coach Branch McCracken, suspected he was not welcome because of his color. He often was not permitted to stay with the team at their hotel during away games, and instead had to stay alone in dorm rooms at nearby black colleges. At a game at North Texas State, the crowd threw programs at him. Back in Cincinnati, he was often barred from theaters and restaurants. Robertson felt his teammates and coach, George Smith, were unsupportive as well and, at one point, he considered leaving Cincinnati and joining the Harlem Globetrotters. Instead, he decided to stay and graduated with a degree in business in 1960.