Literary License or Libel?
Texas school wants apology for ‘Glory Road’ movie portrayal
EL PASO, Texas
Officials at Texas A&M-Commerce University want Walt Disney Co. and the makers of the film “Glory Road” to apologize for inaccurately linking their school to some of the film’s most racially charged scenes.
The movie — filmed in Louisiana — chronicled the history-making Texas Western University Miners, who won the 1966 NCAA title with the first all-Black starting lineup in a championship game. It included a “completely false” depiction of a game against East Texas State University, says spokeswoman Lorraine Pace. The school later became Texas A&M-Commerce.
In the movie, East Texas fans are shown throwing drinks and popcorn and yelling racial slurs at Texas Western — now known as the University of Texas at El Paso — during a regular-season game in Commerce, Texas. A scene after the game shows a vandalized hotel room, with racial slurs written on the walls in red.
“It was just too awful for words,” Pace says, especially since the scene depicted never happened.
According to UTEP athletic department archives, the Miners played the East Texas Lions in El Paso on Dec. 9, 1965. The Miners won 73-51. Texas Western also won the game in the movie, but the margin was much closer.
“These events — specifically depicted as taking place at ETSU and in the Commerce area — are completely fabricated and go beyond the realms of literary license and decency,” A&M-Commerce President Keith McFarland said in a statement.
Though the Jerry Bruckheimer film debuted in January, university officials waited to verify the facts of the game before seeking an apology, Pace says.
The university has asked Disney, Bruckheimer, director James Gartner and the screenplay writers to apologize for the scenes.
The Texas A&M-Commerce complaint isn’t the first. Before the movie’s nationwide release, supporters of then-Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp complained that the movie unfairly cast Rupp as a racist.
The Miners, coached by Don Haskins, beat Rupp’s all-White Kentucky team 72-65 in the NCAA championship game. The movie was adapted from Haskins’ book about that historic season.
— Associated Press
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