NCCU CENTENNIAL SPORTS HISTORY: DID YOU KNOW?
Kyle Serba 03/29/10
NCCU, Duke Play Illegal, Racially-Integrated ‘Secret Game’ in 1944
DID YOU KNOW? On Sunday morning March 12, 1944, during a time of heated racial segregation, the men’s basketball team from the North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) competed against a squad from the Duke School of Medicine on the campus of NCCU in the first racially integrated college-level basketball game in the South.
Due to the illegal nature of this contest, the participants were sworn to secrecy, the gym doors were locked to keep spectators out, and there were no reports published in the local newspapers. While there was a referee and an official scorer, according to the official records, the game never happened.
The meeting remained publically unknown for more than 52 years, until Scott Ellsworth, a Duke University graduate and historian, wrote an article about the historical event that appeared in The New York Times on Sunday, March 31, 1996. “The Secret Game” was born.
An internet search of “Secret Game” and Ellsworth will result in several detailed accounts of the milestone, including an online version of Ellsworth’s original article from The New York Times. (see attached files)
For the record, the Eagles, utilizing Hall of Fame coach John McLendon’s up-tempo style of play that two decades later revolutionized the game of basketball, defeated the team from Duke by a score of 88-44.