WSU Athletics honors pioneering Cougs for Black History Month

WSU men's basketball team kneeling on court with locked arms.
Members of the WSU Men's Basketball Team wear shirts with the names of pioneering African Americans from the university's history as part of Black History Month.

Cassandra Overby flourished with the support of her teammates in the early 1980s, earning accolades and setting WSU women’s basketball records.

Overby’s 875 career rebounds set her atop school history as well as placing second all-time for career points and blocks. In 2015, she entered the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame alongside former track and field standout Pam Qualls as the first female African American inductees.

Overby and Qualls now are among the pioneering Cougs whose names adorn official warmup shirts being worn by WSU student athletes in honor of Black History Month.

“I’m honored and privileged to be among the remarkable African American student athletes that attend Washington State University,” Overby said. “Washington State was a very welcoming place where I always felt included on and off the court and it’s an honor to be remembered in this way.”

The names listed on the shirt include Overby, Qualls, George Raveling, Munro Wilson, Duke Washington, and Elson Floyd:

  • Qualls ran track for WSU from 1985 until 1988, where she was a four-time All-American and first female African American All-American in school history.
  • Raveling became the first African American basketball coach in the then-Pac-8 in 1972 and took the Cougs to two NCAA tournaments during his 11 years in Pullman.
  • Washington was the star running back for the Cougs from 1952 until 1954. On Oct. 2, 1954, he became the first African American to play football in the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium, where he also became the first African American to score a touchdown.
  • Wilson is believed to be the first African-American football player at WSU as a member of the 1925 and 1926 teams.
  • Floyd served as the 10th president in university history. During his time leading WSU, Floyd helped the university win approval to create a separately accredited medical school at WSU Health Sciences Spokane, and completed a successful $1 billion fundraising campaign, among other accomplishments.

The idea was driven by a desire to highlight the history of exceptional black student athletes and leaders in WSU’s past, said Chris Park, deputy athletic director of external relations.

“We asked our team to dive into record books and look for people who led the way,” Park said. “What we wanted was to not only highlight well-known figures, but to make known other outstanding Cougs from our history and encourage members of our community to learn about them.”

Athletics did this not only by distributing the shirts to all student athletes, but by sending them biographical information about each person named. Coaches like Nick Rolovich were eager to share that history with their student athletes, Park said.

Athletic teams are wearing the shirts during pregame warmups and sharing team photos for fans on social media throughout the month of February.

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