UK football

Greg Page’s Lasting Legacy in UK Football

In 1965, UK recruited Nathaniel Northington to play football for the UK Wildcats – a few weeks later UK football coach Charles Bradshaw signed Greg Page from Middlesboro, Kentucky. Northington and Page pushed for further integration and by the fall of August 1967, other African American players were signed, including Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg.

Tragedy struck, however, during practice in August, leaving Greg Page paralyzed from the neck down. Page died on September 29, one day before Northington broke the SEC’s color barrier in the September 30, 1967 game against the University of Mississippi.

Team photo of Greg Page, one of UK football's first African American players. University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center

Team photo of Greg Page, one of UK football’s first African American players.
University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center

Greg Page's parents at Commonwealth Stadium. The University of Kentucky honored Page by naming the Greg Page Apartments in his memory. University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center

Greg Page’s parents at Commonwealth Stadium. The University of Kentucky honored Page by naming the Greg Page Apartments in his memory.
University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center

09/22/17

UK President John W. Oswald and the SEC

John Oswald served as the University of Kentucky’s sixth president from 1963 – 1968. Although a short tenure at the helm of the university, Oswald’s progressive stance on academics and integration steered UK toward the recruitment of African American players.

Oswald picked up where his predecessor, former UK president Frank Dickey, left off by guiding behind-the-scenes conversations regarding the racial desegregation of the SEC. Concerned over Kentucky’s future in the SEC and the overall survival of the conference, UK athletics director Bernie Shively and Auburn athletics director Jeff Beard proposed a plan in which teams would play five permanent conference opponents and two additional teams on a rotating basis. This plan laid the early foundation for today’s conference schedule in the SEC.

UK President John Oswald during an interview in 1963. University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center

UK President John Oswald during an interview in 1963.
University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center

09/22/17

How UK Football Broke the SEC Color Barrier

Today’s Southeastern Conference is a place where student-athletes of all colors and ethnicities are welcome. But in the 1960s, it was a different – many SEC teams refused to play against people of color. The University of Kentucky changed that when it partnered with Gov. Edward Breathitt to challenge the SEC color barrier. The result? The historic day 50 years ago on September 30, 1967, when UK defensive back Nate Northington became the first African American to play in the SEC as the Wildcats took on Ole Miss. Share your memories and personal collections surrounding this monumental event.

09/22/17

Nate Northington Signs with UK

Nathaniel “Nate” Northington signs with the University of Kentucky at the president’s office in Lexington, 1965. Standing behind Northington are (L to R) Kentucky governor Edward T. “Ned” Breathitt, UK football coach Charles Bradshaw, Thomas Jefferson High School football coach Jim Gray, and University of Kentucky president John W. Oswald. Courtesy of University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

09/22/17