If you grew up in the historic “Eastside” of Oklahoma City, attended Frederick A. Douglass High School or if your a lifelong University of Oklahoma fan you should know about Prentice Gautt. He the first African-American to play football at OU, and paved the way for black student-athletes in all sports at OU. He played at Oklahoma from 1956-1959. This is before many of us were alive, but his legacy still lives on throughout the state and more so in the black community.
At 6’1, 210 pounds Gautt would be an average sized running back today, but was considered huge for his time. Former Sooner head coach Bud Wilkinson received great pressure to not give Gautt a scholarship, so he didn’t… At first. A group of black doctors and pharmacists gave him money to attend the university. As a walk-on, Gautt was a member of the football team as well. Ultimately, within a year, he had a scholarship and the donated money he received to attend school was given to another black student. Gautt then received All-Big Eight honors two times and was the 1959 Orange Bowl MVP. His senior year, he was also named to the Academic All-American team.
After his college career he went on to play in the NFL for seven seasons, one with the Cleveland Browns and six with the St. Louis Cardinals. After the NFL, he coached football at Missouri while he earned his Ph.D. in psychology. Following that, he started a career in athletics administration where he was first an assistant commissioner for the Big Eight Conference and then as a special assistant to the commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
Gautt later died on March 17, 2005 due to flu-like symptoms.