Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stewart Needs to Address Black Concerns

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stewart Needs to Address Black Concerns

Article excerpt

When I wandered into the University of Missouri from Detroit in 1975, I heard about all the problems Tigers basketball coach Norm Stewart had with St. Louis.

It seemed a recruit named LaMont Turner had a most unpleasant experience in Columbia - he left the team in 1973 - and blacks in St. Louis were up in arms.

Feelings get hurt in sports, and I figured it was one of those rifts that would heal with time. St. Louis was too big a market for Stewart to estrange. Surely he would make peace. But 19 years later, the conflict rages, and most of the complaints folks voiced then are heard today.

Mizzou has overlooked or downgraded prospects like Anthony Bonner. Black basketball players don't graduate from the university. Other complaints about the Little Dixie atmosphere in Columbia may be outdated, but they won't vanish until Stewart addresses them.

Maybe skin surgery did keep him from attending the helpful forum ex-Tiger football star Demetrious Johnson organized for Mizzou officials and the St. Louis black media on Friday.

At some point, however, Stewart must come and listen to these opinion makers. If he doesn't, he won't get many of the exciting St. Louis prospects coming down the line.

Tigers recruiting wizard Rich Daly didn't win points subbing for Stewart on Friday. More than anyone, Daly knows the importance of building coalitions and nurturing contacts. But he apparently did more smirking than schmoozing at Friday's session and only widened the gap.

Stewart could start rebuilding by listening to Vashon coach Floyd Irons, a man who commands tremendous respect in our community. He must grit his teeth and let Onion Horton and Charlie "Tuna" Edwards challenge him to change.

Will this ever happen? Stewart told the Columbia Tribune he is open to attending a future summit, but he also fired back at unnamed critics.

"There's a perception in some areas where you have people who do not have any credentials," he said. "I say credentials, when I want somebody to represent me, I want somebody that I think has a good record of being credible, of being informed and that I can rely on . …

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