Today, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos issued the following statement on the passing of Perry Wallace, Vanderbilt alumnus and the first African-American to play varsity basketball in the Southeastern Conference (SEC):
“Vanderbilt, the sports world, and the entire country lost a civil rights icon today. We are deeply saddened by the passing of Perry Wallace, who through quiet strength and courage blazed a trail that still serves as a lesson in resilience and perseverance in the face of incredible obstacles. We are more fortunate for having known him and for his legacy at Vanderbilt. While his passing sadly comes just as we come together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Perry’s groundbreaking achievement, his legacy will live on. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time.”
Statement from David Williams, Vanderbilt vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director, added:
The information we received today informing us of the passing of our friend and fellow Commodore Perry Wallace has saddened us all. Perry Wallace stood for all that’s good in each of us. I had the good fortune to visit Perry a week ago and while he clearly knew his time was limited his spirits were high and he expressed his love and appreciation for this great university. I say to everyone associated with Vanderbilt, Perry gave us so much more than we ever gave him. My brother Rest In Peace.