Ten years after James Meredith broke down the color barrier by becoming the first African American member of the student body, another milestone was reached.
Coolidge Ball, from Indianola, became the first black athlete to play for Ole Miss. Ball played basketball for the Rebels from 1972 to 1974. His time at the Tad Pad not only had an effect at Ole Miss, but at colleges all over the state.
Ball didn’t have to see much of Ole Miss to figure out that’s where he wanted to play his college ball. He didn’t have to see much because of what happened during his recruiting visit. Coolidge was there with one other player, a white athlete.
“My brother and a couple friends were with me, and we was talking bout it going back and they said really, ‘Coolidge, you got a better ovation than the white kid,'” Ball said. “That just stuck in my mind.”
Coolidge Ball left his mark on the Ole Miss records books, too. After his three years on the varsity, Ball left Ole Miss ranked in the top 20 in scoring and top 10 in rebounding.
“There’s gonna be a little nervousness and shakiness, you know, but you wanna, I just took it with a challenge. Race relations is a way to get through that through sports because people will talk to sports minded person sometime before they will somebody else,” Ball said.
Coolidge Ball was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008.