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Wendell Hudson

Wendell HudsonIn 1963, Gov. George Wallace delivered the infamous Stand in the Schoolhouse Door speech in an attempt to prohibit African American students from registering for classes at the University of Alabama. A few short years later, in 1969, Wendell Hudson became the first black student athlete to attend the university on scholarship.

Even after black students began attending classes at Alabama, it was still years before other parts of the university were integrated.

“Every day there was a reason for me to quit,” Hudson said in the video documentary "Stepping Through: A look at the past 50 years of desegregation at the University of Alabama." “Every day my freshman year here, every day there was a reason for me not to be successful and give up and to let that defeat me.

"And when I talk to young people, like, that’s no excuse, because, you know, everybody’s going to have a story, not going to be perfect, and it’s going to be a long way from always you’re going to be treated right, but that’s still no excuse to not try your best.”

Hudson went on to earn SEC player-of-the-year honors in 1973 after leading both Alabama and the conference in scoring and ranking second in rebounding in 1972.

A member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Birmingham native was a second-round draft pick by the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. He also spent time playing for the Memphis Tams of the American Basketball Association.

Wendell Hudson
Photo credit: AL.com/Vasha Hunt

Hudson went on to become a veteran basketball coach of both men's and women’s teams, including seven seasons in the SEC. His career began at Alabama as an assistant to C.M. Newton from 1974-79. He then moved on to North Alabama as assistant coach.

Hudson’s other coaching stops have included Rice, Mississippi, and Baylor before turning to athletic administration at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, in 1986.

While at McLennan, Hudson served four years as assistant athletic director before being named athletic director, a position he held for six years. He also served as the women’s basketball coach. In 2000, Hudson assumed head coaching duties for the men’s squad. In that same year, he was awarded the Paul W. Bryant Alumni Athlete Award, given annually to former athletes who have distinguished themselves in the areas of character, contributions to society, professional achievement, or service to fellow citizens.

Today, following five seasons as head coach of Alabama’s women’s basketball team, Hudson is a development officer with the Crimson Tide Foundation.

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