Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and others bring home the CIAA trophy in 1967. Image from Winston-Salem State University via DigitalNC.

Glory Days at Winston-Salem State University, 1967

On March 17, 1967, the Winston-Salem State University Rams bested the Southwest Missouri State University Bears 77-74 at the NCAA Division II national men’s basketball championship game in Evansville, Indiana.

In so doing, WSSU became the first historically black college in the nation to win a national championship.

The championship was the highlight of a 30-1 season for the Rams, and represented a comeback from the Rams’ third-place finish in the CIAA tournament behind North Carolina A&T and Howard.

The 1967 NCAA Championship winning Winston-Salem State University Rams.

WSSU player Vernon Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, who would later go on to a stellar pro career with the Baltimore Bullets and New York Knicks, largely led the team to victory and earned honors as NCAA Division Player of the Year and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors as result.

Hall of Fame winning coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines, who coached the men’s basketball at WSSU for nearly 50 years, also earned top honors as NCAA Division II College Coach of the Year.

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