IU untangling complicated name of historic gym

Written by Sarah Verschoor of the Indiana Daily Student

The tangled legacies of two men who shaped IU’s history collide in one campus gymnasium.

Legendary basketball player Bill Garrett set records for scoring and rebounding in the Fieldhouse. Under that same roof, he also broke the Big Ten’s color barrier that barred black players.

At the same time that the 6-foot-2 center was transforming IU and Big Ten basketball, another campus figure, trustee Ora Wildermuth, wanted to stop integration.

“I am and shall always remain absolutely and utterly opposed to social intermingling of the colored race with the white,” Wildermuth wrote in a letter in 1945. “I belong to the white race and shall remain loyal to it. It always has been the dominant and leading race.”

Garrett was honored as an All-American his senior year. At his final game with a crowd of 10,000 fans, he received a standing ovation.

Twenty years later, the Fieldhouse was renamed. It was named not for the trailblazing player that integrated its courts, but for the white trustee who wanted to block progress — Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center.

IU has long grappled with how to untangle the mistake. The Board of Trustees voted in October to strip the building of Wildermuth’s name, shortening it to the Intramural Center.

Read more on the Indiana Daily Student website.