Oklahoma Sooner Legend: Dr. Prentice Gautt

Tim BondCorrespondent IMay 28, 2009

Prentice Gautt was born on Feb. 8, 1939 in Oklahoma City, OK.

In his early years, Gautt played high school football for Douglass High School in Oklahoma City. While playing high school football, he became the first African-American athlete in the state of Oklahoma to play in the All-State football game, where he was chosen as the MVP.

After he graduated high school, Prentice Gautt decided to attend the University of Oklahoma.

When he arrived in Norman, OK in 1956, he became the first African-American to start for the Sooners. However, he was not the first African-American to walk on.

As a freshman, local black doctors and pharmacists donated to the University of Oklahoma to allow Prentice Gautt to attend without having to fund the tuition himself. The reason Prentice was denied a scholarship by Bud Wilkinson was not entirely on Bud himself.

Coach Wilkinson was pressured by donors and boosters not to offer Prentice a scholarship. That only lasted until Prentice's second season. Prentice graduated from OU in 1959.

In his career at Oklahoma, Prentice Gautt became a two time All-Big Eight selection, as well as being named to the Academic All-American team his senior season.

Prentice Gautt averaged 5.5 yards a carry in his career for the Sooners. He also rushed for 1,301 yards on 235 carries with 6 career touchdowns.

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After playing for the Sooners, Prentice Gautt played seven seasons in the NFL. He played one season with the Cleveland Browns, where he was drafted in the second round, and six with the St. Louis Cardinals.

After his seven year NFL career, Prentice Gautt went on to coach at the University of Missouri, where he also earned his doctorate in Psychology.

After attaining his Ph.D, Gautt began a life in athletic administration. He first served as an assistant commissioner for the Big Eight Conference. Later he served as a special assistant to the commissioner of the Big 12 conference, where he served until his death.

On Mar. 17, 2005, Prentice Gautt passed away at the age of 66 in Lawrence, KS due to a bacterial infection.

After his death, Prentice Gautt was posthumously given the 2005 Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award by the College Football Hall of Fame and the National Football Foundation, in May of 2005.

In his playing career for the Oklahoma Sooners, Prentice Gautt, ushered in a new era of Sooner football. He was courageous enough to face the scrutiny and ridicule from other races, even teammates, to do what he believed in.

In doing so, Prentice Gautt changed Oklahoma football forever.

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