Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame to spotlight Beryl Shipley - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame to spotlight Beryl Shipley

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NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame invites public to free program.

On Feb. 18, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum will present a free program titled "The Legacy of Beryl Shipley" at 6 p.m.

Shipley, a dynamic figure in state sports history, is being enshrined this summer as part of the Hall of Fame's 2014 induction class.

Filmmaker Douglas Domingue will preview and discuss his forthcoming documentary, "Lights Out in Blackham." The film profiles Shipley and tells the story of his sometimes controversial coaching career at UL-Lafayette, then known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana.

Shipley made history in 1966 as the first college coach "to integrate a major sports team at a large public university in the Deep South," according to John Ed Bradley in "Sports Illustrated" magazine. His program was hit with NCAA infractions after he recruited three black players for the Ragin' Cajuns.

Several years later, the Ragin' Cajuns developed into one of the country's best college division (now Division II) teams in 1970-71. The team transitioned to major college (now Division I) basketball and were a Top 10 program featured on the cover of "Sports Illustrated."

Led by Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 1985 inductee Dwight "Bo" Lamar, Shipley's teams played a spectacular style that packed their home arena, Blackham Coliseum, and filled opponents' venues across the state and region. The Cajuns were ranked in the major college top 10 in 1971-72 and 1972-73, reaching the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen both seasons.

NCAA investigators became involved again, and this time the probe resulted in more than 100 infractions that led to the program being suspended for two seasons. Shipley resigned and briefly became a head coach in the ABA before leaving coaching and entering private business.

Domingue's film explores Shipley's legacy, including his contentious relationship with the NCAA.  The film includes extensive game footage and interviews with coaches and players from that era.

Shipley will be among 11 state sports figures inducted in the Hall of Fame on June 21 in Natchitoches.

The Hall of Fame Museum is open from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Adult admission is $5, with seniors, students and active-duty military personnel discounted to $4 and children 12 and under admitted free. School group tours are free of charge when booked in advance by calling the museum at (318) 357-2492.

Tuesday evening's program will gave no admission charge.

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