Kevin McKinney, a Cheyenne native and Wyoming graduate, is the senior associate athletic director at Wyoming. He's also the longtime color analyst for Cowboy radio broadcasts. McKinney, who was on the school's sports information staff in 1969, said the Black 14 incident had a long-lasting influence that went far beyond football.
"It had an incredible impact on the football program and it had an incredible impact on those kids (who were kicked off the team)," McKinney said. "They had a terrible time going to school anywhere. It was a tragic thing, really. It impacted a program, but it impacted a lot of young men, too. That was the sad thing. The wins and losses were the shallow part of it. The real crux of it was the impact it had on those kids and their teammates."
Like many Wyoming fans, McKinney had a difficult time coming to terms with the incident.
"I live and die Wyoming. I was born there, I was raised there, I went to school there," he said. "It's hard for me. It was amazingly bitter because Wyoming football was everything to the fans and the students."
It wasn't until years after the incident that McKinney met up with one of those Black 14 players and they talked about what happened in 1969 and its aftermath.
"He told me how he couldn't go to college anywhere because nobody would take him," McKinney said. "I got a real perspective on what courage it took to stand up for what he believed in. Those kids loved the game. They gave that all up. So I kind of changed my mind about it."
Just this week, a symposium was held on the Wyoming campus about the Black 14 incident. McKinney was among those on the panel. The auditorium was packed with students eager to learn about that painful time in the school's history.
"People need to know about it," McKinney said. "It was 40 years ago. That's a long time. But I was amazed at the turnout at this (symposium). It was very interesting to be part of that. I didn't know that, 40 years later, we'd still be talking about it. But it was as big as anything."
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War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyo.
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