The 1949 Sun Bowl -- Lafayette Makes Statement on Segregation
The 1948 Lafayette football team finished 7-2 overall, including a 23-13 win over Lehigh in the regular season finale, and was invited to play in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. However, Lafayette's starting tailback in 1948 was David Showell '51, an African-American who was also a World War II veteran. With segregationist policies still the norm in the South, the University of Texas Board of Regents, under which the Texas College of Mines operated, refused to allow Showell to suit up in the bowl game for Lafayette
After learning of the Board of Regents' position regarding Showell, Lafayette declined the bowl bid. Students demonstrated their support of the school's stand against intolerance with rallies on campus and in downtown Easton.
Lafayette's refusal to play helped result in a policy change for the Sun Bowl. Three years later, the first integrated Sun Bowl was played.
Lafayette College is home to an incredibly storied and tradition-rich 23-sport intercollegiate athletics program. In addition to boasting four national championships and 64 Patriot League regular season and tournament championships, the Leopards have shaped the game of college football with the invention of the helmet, the invention of the huddle and the game's most played rivalry.
The Leopards' success extends well beyond the competitive venues, annually ranking among the nation's leaders in student-athlete graduation success rate and individual scholar-athlete honors.