USA Diving One-Meter Champion Michael Wright
Feb. 11, 2010
Officials with USA Diving confirmed Wednesday that Tennessee diver Michael Wright is the first African-American to win a USA Diving national championship.
Wright won the title Monday at Ohio State's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion behind a school-record 396.00 score.
After competing for the Volunteers as a junior last spring, Wright is redshirting the 2009-10 season (Monday's event was sanctioned by USA Diving, not the NCAA.). Wright transferred to UT from Indian River Community College in 2008.
With his championship performance, Wright broke the Tennessee one-meter springboard record previously held by 2008 Olympian Jevon Tarantino (388.65).
Wright is Tennessee's first African-American member of the swimming and diving team and adds his name to a list of Vols who broke racial barriers while suiting up for the Orange and White.
In 1968, Lester McClain became the first African-American football player on The Hill. One year later, McClain became the first African-American football player to win an SEC Championship when Doug Dickey's Volunteer team captured the 1969 league title.
James Craig and Audry Hardy became the first black track athletes at Tennessee in 1968. During their time in Knoxville, the pair led the Big Orange to four straight top-10 NCAA indoor finishes. Hardy finished second in the NCAA 600-yard run in 1969 and served as the team's first black captain during the 1970 and 1971 seasons.
A few years later, in 1972, Condredge Holloway became the SEC's first black quarterback and UT's first black baseball player.
Larry Robinson became Tennessee's first African-American basketball player in 1972. As a junior, Robinson helped the Vols win a share of the SEC crown under head coach Ray Mears.
In 1980, Rodney Harmon became the Vols' first black tennis player and brought a host of accolades to Knoxville after his first year. Harmon captured the NCAA and SEC doubles titles with partner Mel Purcell. He also led Tennessee to the 1980 SEC team championship.
Tennessee has never had a black athlete on the golf team.