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Syracuse 8 Collection

An inventory of their collection at the Syracuse University Archives


Title: Syracuse 8 Collection
Dates: 1966-2010
Size: 1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Abstract: The Syracuse 8 Collection contains clippings, photographs, writings, and other materials related to the 1970 football boycott at Syracuse University.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Historical Note

When the Syracuse University football team took the field to play the Orange's home opening game on September 26, 1970, they did so with nine talented players noticeably absent from the team. These nine black men were not on the field because they chose to boycott the Syracuse University football program until its practices of institutionalized racist mistreatment of players were corrected. The nine boycotting players, who mistakenly came to be known as the Syracuse 8, made their stand at a significant personal cost. The sacrifice made by Greg Allen, Richard Bulls, John Godbolt, Dana Harrell, John Lobon, Clarence "Bucky" McGill, A. Alif Muhammad, Duane Walker, and Ron Womack ultimately brought about many much needed changes to Syracuse University.

Starting in the fall of 1968, a group of black players on the football team expressed concerns about racial discrimination within the football program. The issues these players raised included racial discrimination in composing the team's depth chart and road game procedures, the use of racist language by the coaching staff, racial disparities in disciplinary action, and the lack of academic support and proper medical care for all players. Despite repeated requests by these players to hire a black assistant football coach, Coach Ben Schwartzwalder avoided following through until pressured to do so by the University administration.

Players Tom Smith, Walker, Muhammad, McGill, Lobon, Harrell, Allen, and GodboltIn April 1970, nine black players began their boycott of spring football practice. Despite multiple meetings with Chancellor Corbally and other University representatives, progress was slow and tensions continued to mount. The boycotting players refused to sign a statement of loyalty which placed the blame for the conflict on them. Supporters demonstrated at Syracuse’s football home opener against the University of Kansas that fall. Demonstrations remained peaceful until violence broke out on Marshall Street, where protesters threw rocks at police, who fired tear gas into the crowds.

The Committee on Allegations of Racial Discrimination in the Football Program, commissioned by Corbally in the fall, conducted a thorough investigation. In a report released on December 10, 1970, the committee concluded that “racism in the Syracuse University Athletic Department is real, chronic, largely unintentional, and sustained and complicated unwittingly by many modes of behavior common in American athletics and long-standing at Syracuse University.” Finding the athletic department “showed an unwarranted insensitivity” and was overly dismissive of concerns raised by black players on the team, the committee recommended changes to Syracuse University athletics, which Chancellor Corbally approved.

The courageous stand made by Allen, Bulls, Godbolt, Harrell, Lobon, McGill, Muhammad, Walker, and Womack did result in real change within Syracuse University. The University came to see that the actions of the Syracuse 8 were justified and the changes they had fought for were needed. In 2006, Syracuse University formally recognized the contributions made by the Syracuse 8 by awarding them the Chancellor’s Medal for Extraordinary Courage.

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Scope and Content Note

The Syracuse 8 Collection, comprised of materials dating from 1966 to 2010, is divided into five series. The first four series contain materials donated by members of the Syracuse 8 or their families.

The Greg Allen series includes clippings from newspapers and magazines, photographs of the Syracuse 8 on and off the football field, and materials from the Chancellor’s Medal for Extraordinary Courage award ceremony, which includes a mission statement from the Syracuse 8. The Richard Bulls series contains additional clippings and materials from the late Mr. Bulls' memorial service. The John Lobon series consists of one digital image of a group photo of seven of the Syracuse 8 in their football uniforms in 1969 and a 2006 issue of Jet magazine, which includes an article about the Syracuse 8. The Clarence "Bucky" McGill series includes clippings, both from his time at Syracuse University and from his days playing high school sports, as well as correspondence related to colleges and football programs, a few photographs, some material related to an honorary ceremony, and one of McGill's Syracuse University football jerseys.

The materials in the collection's final series, Syracuse University Materials, were part of the Archives' existing holdings. They include some materials related to the Chancellor's Medal ceremony of 2006, such as invitations, programs, and a DVD featuring the ceremony and interviews. Also found in this series is the full 1970 report from the Trustee, Faculty, and Student Committee on Allegations of Racial Discrimination in the Football Program that had been formed to investigate the claims made by the Syracuse 8, as well as a folder of the committee's notes, research materials, and revisions. Lastly, this series also contains a folder of subject files related to the Syracuse 8, which holds items such as rally flyers, the content of Jim Brown's press conference, and the original and revised statement the University wanted the boycotting players to sign.

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Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions for this collection.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

The Archives holds clipping files on members of the Syracuse 8, as well as others at Syracuse University who were connected to the story. The Archives also holds the papers of Ben Schwartzwalder and Chancellor Corbally, both of which contain materials relevant to the Syracuse 8.

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Selected Search Terms


Allen, Gregory.
Bulls, Richard.
Corbally, John E. (John Edward), 1924-.
Godbolt, John.
Harrell, Dana.
Lobon, John.
McGill, Clarence.
Muhammad, A. Alif.
Schwartzwalder, Ben.
Walker, Duane.
Womack, Ron.
Syracuse University.


Student movements.
Syracuse University -- Football -- History.
Syracuse University -- History.
Higher education.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Syracuse 8 Collection,
University Archives,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Greg Allen and Clarence "Bucky" McGill formed the bulk of the Syracuse 8 Collection with their donations to the Archives in September 2012, and John Lobon donated his contribution to the collection shortly afterward. The materials related to John Bulls were donated by Assistant Chancellor Trudy Morritz in July 2010.

Processing Information

The items in this collection were placed in acid-free folders and housed in an acid free box.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Sean Molinaro
Date: 2013
Revision history:

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The items are arranged in alphabetical order.

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Greg Allen
Box 1 Clippings October 27, 1966-September 24, 2010
Box 1 Photographs - Football games circa 1969
Box 1 Photographs - Syracuse 8 1968-2006
Box 1 Syracuse 8 Mission Statement - Card featuring Chancellor’s Medal for Extraordinary Courage October 20, 2006
Richard Bulls
Box 1 Clippings Spring 2005-February 19, 2007
Box 1 Memorial service materials May 2010
John Lobon
Box 1 Digital photograph Spring 1969
 Players Tom Smith, Walker, Muhammad, McGill, Lobon, Harrell, Allen, and Godbolt
Box 1 Jet magazine containing article about the Syracuse 8 October 23, 2006
Clarence "Bucky" McGill
Box 1 Clippings - High school athletics 1966
Box 1 Clippings - Syracuse University September 10, 1967-September 24, 1970, undated
Box 1 Correspondence January 27, 1967-March 1972
Box 1 Honors June 5, 1971, October 7, 2005
Box 1 Photographs circa 1966, undated
Box 1 Syracuse University football jersey, #93 circa 1968
Syracuse University Materials
Box 1 Book - Leveling the Playing Field: The Story of the Syracuse 8, by David Marc 2015
Box 1 Chancellor's Medal ceremony October 20, 2006
Box 1 DVD - "Syracuse 8" 2007
Box 1 Human Rights Commission letter to Corbally August 23, 1970
Box 1 Jim Brown press conference September 3, 1970
Box 1 Notes of the Trustee, Faculty, and Student Committee on Allegations of Racial Discrimination in the Football Program April 17, 1970-November 30, 1970, undated
Box 1 Rally Flyers Fall 1970
Box 1 "Rejection of 'Mythical Reinstatement'" September 27, 1970
Box 1 Revised statement for player reinstatement August 26, 1970
Box 1 "Report of Trustee, Faculty, and Student Committee on Allegations of Racial Discrimination in the Football Program" December 8, 1970-December 9, 1970
Box 1 Syracuse University News Bureau July 27, 1970-December 10, 1970

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