First African-American Basketball Player Awarded Scholarship (1968)

Al Heartley

1968 Al Heartley 

First integrated basketball team

1967 Al Heartley and William Cooper

Al Heartley (pictured left) was the first African American athlete to be awarded a basketball scholarship at N.C. State University. Heartley had been a basketball star at segregated Johnston Central high school in Smithfield, North Carolina. He enrolled at N.C. State as an undergraduate student majoring in applied mathematics. He and William Cooper decided to walk-on to the freshmen basketball team. During that period, freshmen were not allowed by NCAA rules to play on the varsity team. Heartley, proving he was one of the best players on the team, was promoted to the varsity squad in 1968 and awarded a full scholarship. In 1970, he helped the team win the ACC tournament and was later named captain. In 1971, he received the prestigious Alumni Athletics Trophy as one of the schools top athletes, as voted on by the student body.[1]


Photograph (left) of Al Heartley and William Cooper as members of the 1967 freshmen basketball team.[2] Cooper along with Heartley helped to integrate N.C. State basketball.







[1] UA 015.402 North Carolina State University, Athletics, Men’s Basketball Audiovisual Materials 1953‑1994, Digitized Collection, North Carolina State University Special Collections, Raleigh, NC. Accessed November 13, 2014.

[2] Historical State. ʺAfrican Americans, Timeline.ʺ Accessed October 25, 2014.‑Americans.






First African-American Basketball Player Awarded Scholarship (1968)