Branch McCracken

Location: 145 S. Chestnut St, Monrovia, outside the Monrovia Branch of the Morgan County Public Library (Morgan County), Indiana

Installed 2017 Indiana Historical Bureau and Monroe-Gregg School District

ID#: 55.2017.1

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Text:

Side One:

Esteemed basketball player and coach Emmett Branch McCracken was born in Monrovia in 1908. He led Monrovia High School to Tri-State Tournament wins in 1925 and 1926, as two-time MVP. McCracken played for Indiana University from 1927-1930. He led IU in scoring for three years and became a three-time All-Big Ten Team member. Inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame in 1960.

Side Two:

McCracken coached Ball State basketball, 1930-1938. Hired as IU head coach in 1938, his team won the 1940 national championship. He served in the Navy during WWII; returned to IU in 1946. He coached Bill Garrett, the first African American regular starter in Big Ten basketball, 1948-1951. In 1953, he led IU to another national title. Retired in 1965; died in 1970.

Annotated Text:

Side One:

Esteemed basketball player and coach[1] Emmett Branch McCracken was born in Monrovia in 1908.[2] He led Monrovia High School to Tri-State Tournament wins in 1925 and 1926,[3] as two-time MVP.[4] McCracken played for Indiana University from 1927-1930.[5] He led IU in scoring for three years[6] and became a three-time All-Big Ten Team member.[7] Inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame in 1960.[8]

Side Two:

McCracken coached Ball State basketball, 1930-1938.[9] Hired as IU head coach in 1938,[10] his team won the 1940 national championship.[11] He served in Navy during WWII; returned to IU in 1946.[12] He coached Bill Garrett, the first African American regular starter in Big Ten basketball, 1948-1951.[13] In 1953, he led IU to another national title.[14] Retired in 1965;[15] died in 1970.[16]

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All newspapers were accessed via Newspapers.com unless otherwise noted.

[1] This marker commemorates Branch McCracken's contributions to Hoosier basketball as both a player and coach. For information on his achievements as a player for Monrovia High School and Indiana University, see footnotes 3-8. For information on his coaching accomplishments, see footnotes 9-11 and 13-14. McCracken was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960 and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1963.

[2] Certificate of Birth, “Emmett Branch McCracken,” June 9, 1908, Certificate no. 37124, Indiana State Board of Health, accessed Ancestry.com; Medical Certificate of Death, “E Branch McCracken,” June 4, 1970, Indiana State Board of Health, accessed Ancestry.com.

Emmett Branch McCracken, commonly known as Branch McCracken throughout his life, was born in Monrovia, Indiana on June 9, 1908.

[3] "Fourteen Teams from Indiana in Tourney: No Hope for 39 Others," [Muncie] Star Press, February 10, 1925, 11; Tom Swope, "Monrovia is Triumphant," Logansport Pharos-Tribune, February 16, 1925, 8; "Twelve Indiana Teams to Compete in Tri-State Tourney at Cincinnati," Indianapolis News, February 9, 1926, 22; "Monrovia is Again Champ," Richmond Item, February 14, 1926, 9; Old King Cole, editorial, Indianapolis Star, February 22, 1926, 12; “The Collision of the Curtis Brothers,” Indianapolis News, March 3, 1926, 20; "Prep Stars Continue Pace in College Debut," Battle Creek [Michigan] Enquirer, January 9, 1928, 7.

McCracken played high school basketball for Monrovia and helped lead his team to consecutive Tri-State Tournament championships in 1925 and 1926. The Tri-State Tournament was an annual basketball tournament played in Cincinnati between high school teams from Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. In 1925, the Muncie Star Press reported that fourteen of the fifty-three teams entered in the tournament that year were from Indiana. Monrovia took home the championship after six consecutive victories, defeating Aurora High School in the final game, 29-21. Monrovia returned to the tournament the following year as one of twelve Indiana teams to compete. The team won for the second year in a row, defeating Summitville in the final game, 19-17. In a December 1927 article, the Richmond Item reported that Monrovia's high ranking during the 1926 tournament "was largely due to the playing of McCracken." McCracken was captain and center of Monrovia’s team. According to the Indianapolis News (March 3, 1926), by early March he had scored 395 points during his years playing for Monrovia and his final season was not yet over. For more on McCracken's contributions during the Tri-State Tournaments see footnote 4.

[4] "Monrovia's Center is Awarded Medal," [Muncie] Star Press, February 15, 1926, 7; "Big Boy," Logansport Pharos-Tribune, February 27, 1926, 8; "The Collision of the Curtis Brothers," Indianapolis News, March 3, 1926, 20; "Indiana Net Men Return to Get Set for Cinci Contest," [Richmond] Palladium-Item, December 27, 1927, 11.

McCracken won highest individual honors for a player during the 1925 and 1926 Tri-State Tournaments when he received the medal for most valuable player both years. The Logansport Pharos-Tribune praised McCracken's play in its February 27, 1926 issue, reporting that he had not only led the offense, but that he was also "the bulwark of the Monrovia defense." The article continued: "The star pivot player gave one of the best exhibitions of basketball displayed by any individual player here this season."

[5] “Indiana Points for Next Game,” Indianapolis Star, November 6, 1927, 42; “Athletes of I.U. Plan Short Rest,” Indianapolis Star, December 18, 1927, 39; “Varsity Crashes Before Fast Indiana Five, 56 to 41,” Cincinnati Enquirer, January 1, 1928, 13; “M’Cracken Stars for Crimsonites,” Indianapolis Star, January 8, 1928, 89; “Gridmen Report for Net Quintet,” Indianapolis Star, November 28, 1928, 14; “Basketball,” Arbutus [Yearbook], Indiana University, 1928, 106-112, accessed Ancestry.com; “McCracken Picked to Pilot Crimson Five,” [Muncie] Star Press, March 16, 1929, 10; “Basketball,” Arbutus, Indiana University, 1930, 103-109, accessed Ancestry.com; “Branch McCracken,” IU Basketball Men’s Database, accessed Indianapolis Star.

In early November 1927, the Indianapolis Star reported that Branch McCracken was one of the chief candidates for the pivot position on IU’s basketball team for the upcoming season. According to the article, McCracken’s position on the varsity football team prevented him from joining basketball practice until after November 19. After just a few games, the Star reported on December 18: “The first new man to come through with promise is Branch McCracken of Monrovia.” McCracken may not have had much Big Ten basketball experience at the time, but he was already beginning to excel under Coach Everett Dean. On New Year’s Eve, 1927, IU played at Cincinnati and defeated them 56-41. An article in the Cincinnati Enquirer the following day noted that McCracken “was high point man along with [Dale] Wells, the two accounting for 28 of Indiana’s points by virtue of their accurate shooting from various angles of the court.” The following game, IU defeated Chicago, 32-13. The Star reported: “With the Hoosier victory came a new Indiana star on the horizon in Branch McCracken . . . The Indiana sophomore scored eleven more points than the entire Chicago team.”

McCracken continued to be a strong presence on the court throughout the 1927-1928 season. In late November, he again turned in his football jersey to join the basketball squad for the 1928-1929 season. He returned as center and continued to put up big points. On March 16, 1929, the Star Press of Muncie reported that McCracken had been selected captain of the team for the following year.

The 1929-1930 season would prove to be McCracken’s best. According to IU’s yearbook the Arbutus:

After three years of hard struggle Capt. Branch McCracken plowed his way through the Conference foes to score a total of 147 points to top all other players and to break the all-time record set last year by [Charles ‘Stretch’] Murphy of Purdue. McCracken was one of the best pilots ever in charge of an Indiana basketball team and was named on nearly every all-conference team.

[6] “Michigan Beats Chicago; Northwestern Wins,” [East Liverpool, Ohio] Evening Review, February 14, 1928, 10; “Purple Center Takes Big Ten Scoring Lead,” Battle Creek [Michigan] Enquirer, March 2, 1928, 16; “Leading Scorers in Terrific Race,” Indianapolis Star, March 5, 1928; “Purdue and Indiana Share Big Ten Crown,” Indianapolis News, March 12, 1928, 18; “Basketball,” Arbutus, Indiana University, 1929, 105-112, accessed Ancestry.com; “Branch McCracken Sets New All Time Big Ten Scoring Record,” Ironwood [Michigan] Daily Globe, March 11, 1930, 7; “Basketball,” Arbutus, Indiana University, 1930, 103-109, accessed Ancestry.com; "To Recommend Branch McCracken for I.U. Net Job," Richmond Item, June 18, 1938, 8; “Branch McCracken,” IU Basketball Men’s Database, accessed Indianapolis Star; “Emmett B. 'Branch' McCracken," Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

McCracken led IU’s varsity basketball team in scoring during all three seasons he played. According to the IU Basketball Men’s Database, he scored 172 points during the 1927-1928 season, 148 points during the 1928-1929 season, and 206 points during the 1929-1930 season. For detailed statistics during these years for McCracken and his teammates, see the IU database.

Despite his youth, McCracken led the Big Ten Conference in scoring during most of his first season on the team (1927-1928), only losing the lead in the last few weeks of the season. According to the 1928 Arbutus, McCracken finished the season with 123 points in Big Ten play, tied for second place under Bennie Oosterbaan of Michigan, who had 128. Other leading scorers from the Hoosiers included Dale Wells, James Strickland, and Bob Correll, who finished Big Ten play with 95, 81, and 80 points respectively.

In 1929, McCracken again finished in second place in Big Ten scoring standings. During his final season, 1929-1930, however, he topped the leader board. An Associated Press article published in the Ironwood Daily Globe on March 11, 1930 reported that McCracken had not only finished first in the conference in scoring, but that he had also set a new Big Ten scoring record, 147 points in 12 contests. The article noted, “McCracken’s mark bettered by four points the previous record set last year by Stretch Murphy, Purdue’s great center.” Note: Murphy only played in 10 conference games during the 1929-1930 season, as opposed to McCracken’s 12. He finished 10 points behind McCracken. 

For more on McCracken’s time on the IU basketball team, see footnote 5.

[7] “The First ‘All’ Five,” Des Moines [Iowa] Register, March 3, 1928, 7; “All Star Western Conference Basketball Teams Are Picked,” Portsmouth [Ohio] Daily Times, March 5, 1928, 16; “Chapman and Foster Named,” Muncie Evening Press, March 5, 1929, 8; “3 School Win First 5 Places,” Huntington Herald, March 5, 1929, 6; “Centers Ruled Net Play in Conference,” Muncie Evening Press, March 12, 1930, 12; “Name Stars of Big Ten,” [De Kalb, Illinois] Daily Chronicle, March 12, 1930, 9.

On March 3, 1928 the Des Moines Register published one of the first selections for All-Big Ten basketball quintet that season, as picked by Harold Leroy of Iowa City. According to the article, McCracken was one of four Hoosiers selected for the team. In explaining his selection, Leroy stated:

I chose Murphy of Purdue over McCracken of Indiana for the center position because of the former’s height…Nevertheless McCracken is too good to leave off any team so I placed him at a forward position…He is a fast man on the floor and a hard man to guard. He is always a sure point man.

The United Press made its selections for the 1928 All-Big Ten Conference Team soon after. The Portsmouth Daily Times published its picks on March 5, and reported that McCracken had been named to the second team, with Charles “Stretch” Murphy winning the center position on the first team. According to the article:

In choosing the 1928 United Press all-Big Ten conference team, it was almost impossible to exclude any one of the five outstanding centers in the conference: Charles ‘Stretch’ Murphy of Purdue, Branch McCracken of Indiana, Bud Foster of Wisconsin, ‘Rut’ Walter of Northwestern and Francis Wilcox of Iowa.

In 1929, the United Press again awarded McCracken a second team selection on the All-Big Ten Conference Team behind Murphy. In 1930, it named him a forward on the first team.

[8] "Make Cage Hall of Fame," Terre Haute Tribune, April 26, 1960, 11; Jep Cadou, Jr., "Calls 'Em," Indianapolis Star, April 27, 1960, 25; "Emmett B. 'Branch' McCracken," Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

McCracken was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960. According to a April 26, 1960 Terre Haute Tribune article republished from the Associated Press, ground for the new Hall of Fame was broken the previous fall in Springfield, Massachusetts. McCracken was one of ten men inducted in 1960, bringing the total elected to the Hall to that point to twenty-seven.

Inductees that year included five former All-Americans players (of which McCracken was one), three coaches, a referee, and an official of high school basketball organizations who had also been a member of the rules committee.

The Indianapolis Star reported on the induction on April 27, 1960, noting that "Purdue and Indiana had hit the jackpot." Three of the five men inducted as players were from the two universities: Charles (Stretch) Murphy and Johnny Wooden from Purdue, and McCracken from IU. Ward (Piggy) Lambert of Purdue was also one of the three coaches inducted.

[9] "Basketball is Demonstrated by Two Teams," Greencastle Daily Herald, July 3, 1930, 2, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles; "McCrackens [sic] Scoring Record Remains Big Ten Mark," Greencastle Herald, March 10, 1931, 4, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles; "Ball State Five to Play Here Thursday," Franklin Evening Star, December 18, 1934, 2; "McCracken's Cardinals to Play Here," Franklin Evening Star, December 20, 1934, 2; "McCracken is Chosen I.U. Basketball Coach," [Columbus] Republic, June 24, 1938, 6; "Ball State Hires Phillips," Kokomo Tribune, August 1, 1938, 8; "Athletic Hall of Fame," Ball State University, accessed http://cms.bsu.edu/about/administrativeoffices/alumni/awards/athletichalloffame.

After graduating from IU, McCracken accepted a position as head basketball coach at Ball State Teachers College in 1930.* An article in the Republic in 1938 noted that during his time coaching the Ball State Cardinals, he made them "a constant threat in Indiana collegiate conference competition." According to the Ball State Men's Basketball Record Book, he led the Cardinals to an 86-57 record over eight seasons. For information on the team's record during each of these seasons, see the Record Book. McCracken resigned from Ball State in 1938 after being hired as head basketball coach at IU. An article in the Kokomo Tribune in August 1938 reported that Ardith L. Phillips had been appointed to replace him. McCracken was inducted into Ball State University's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.

*Note: Ball State Teachers College was renamed Ball State University in the 1960s.

[10] "Indiana Seeks Man to Replace Everett Dean," [Richmond] Palladium-Item, May 27, 1938, 10; "McCracken Gets I.U. Cage Post," Franklin Evening Star, June 24, 1938, 4; "McCracken is New I.U. Mentor," [Bloomington Illinois] Pantagraph, June 24, 1938, 14; "McCracken is Chosen I.U. Basketball Coach," [Columbus] Republic, June 24, 1938, 6.

On May 27, 1938, the Richmond Palladium-Item reported that IU Athletic Board members had started looking for someone to succeed Everett Dean as head basketball coach at IU. Dean was reportedly close to accepting a basketball coaching position at Stanford University. According to the Palladium-Item, McCracken was among those being considered to replace Dean should he resign.

On June 24, newspapers reported that McCracken had been hired to succeed Dean as IU head basketball coach. Paul (Pooch) Harrell was also hired to coach IU's baseball team, which Dean had also coached.

[11] "Indiana Finishes in Second Place," Indianapolis Star, March 5, 1940, 1; "Athletic Board to Meet Today," Indianapolis Star, March 6, 1940, 16; "I.U. Will Resume Drill Tomorrow," Indianapolis Star, March 10, 1940, 28; "Crimson Snipers Bid for National Basketball Honors at Butler," Indianapolis Star, March 19, 1940, 16; "Play in Last Tourney Tilt Here Tonight," Indianapolis Star, March 23, 1940, 1; "Hoosier Courtmen Qualify for National Title Game," Indianapolis Star, March 24, 1940, 23; "Thousands Greet National Champs on Return to Bloomington," Indianapolis Star, April 1, 1940, 15; "Coach of National Net Champions Started I.U. Career as Grid Player," Indianapolis Star, April 2, 1940, 16.

In 1940, Indiana finished 20-3 in the regular season. Despite the fact that they finished second in the Big Ten, one game behind Purdue, the Indianapolis Star reported on March 6, 1940 that IU had been invited to represent the Midwest in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Eastern tournament. IU had won all of its non-conference games and beat Purdue twice, while the Boilermakers had lost two non-conference games, bringing their total losses to four on the season.

On March 22, IU defeated Springfield College (Massachusetts), 48-24 in the first round of the Eastern tournament. The following day, they beat Duquesne, 39-30, earning the opportunity to play Kansas for the national college basketball championship. More celebration was to come for McCracken's Hoosier squad as they defeated Kansas 60-42 to claim IU's first national basketball championship. The Indianapolis Star covered the game and the celebrations in its April 1 and April 2 issues, including quotes from IU President Herman B Wells and McCracken. Wells congratulated the team and told the men "the game which you played at Kansas City was to the glory of yourselves, to Indiana basketball, and to Indiana University." 

For more information on IU’s record, game scores, and its players during this season, see the Indiana Basketball Men’s Database

[12] "Branch McCracken," U.S. Select Military Registers, 1862-1985, accessed Ancestry.com; "McCracken Gets Naval Commission," Indianapolis Star, May 18, 1943, 16; "M'Cracken to Service July 1," [Hammond] Times, May 18, 1943, 9; "Indiana Names Coach," Cincinnati Enquirer, August 19, 1943, 20; "Johnny Wooden and Tony Hinkle Mentioned as Possible Successors to Purdue Mentor," [Columbus] Republic, January 23, 1946, 4; "McCracken at N.A.," [Louisville, Kentucky] Courier-Journal, March 26, 1946, 12.

On May 18, 1943, the Indianapolis News reported that McCracken had received a commission as lieutenant junior grade in the navy and was to report to naval preflight school in Chapel Hill, N.C. by July 1. In addition to McCracken, the paper noted that William B. Feldhaus, assistant football coach at IU, had also been commissioned an ensign. IU hired Harry C. Good, basketball and athletic director at Indiana Central College, to fill McCracken's position as IU basketball coach until his return. McCracken resumed his position as coach for the 1946-1947 basketball season.

[13] Charles E. Harrell to Croan Greenough, May 9, 1940, “Negroes and Jews Statistics at IU and Negro Misc.,” 1940-41, Folder 1, Collection C213.414, President’s Office Records, Indiana University Archives, submitted by applicant; Charles S. Preston, “’Mr. Basketball’ May Spend College Days on West Coast,” Indianapolis Recorder, June 7, 1947, 11; “’Mr. Basketball’ of 1946-47 Bill Garrett, Enters I.U.,” Indianapolis Recorder, October 4, 1947, 11; “Bill Garrett, Cage Ace, Makes I.U. Squad,” Indianapolis Recorder, November 27, 1948, 11; Faburn DeFrantz, unpublished autobiography, read and copied by Rachel Graham Cody from personal collection of Robert DeFrantz, Indianapolis, August 2, 2000, submitted by applicant; “The Color Line in Midwestern College Sports, 1890-1960,” Indiana Magazine of History (June 2002): 85-112, accessed JSTOR.

For detailed information on Bill Garrett and the integration of Big Ten basketball see, "Integrating Basketball," Indiana State Historical Marker, Indiana Historical Bureau. Excerpts from the annotations of that marker are included below. See also Tom Graham and Rachel Graham Cody, Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006).

Up until the late 1940s, a “gentleman’s agreement” barred African Americans from playing college basketball on Big Ten varsity teams. In a May 9, 1940 letter on the conditions of Africans Americans at IU, Assistant Registrar Charles E. Harrell reported that there was “no written rule in the Big Ten regarding participation in athletics. The unwritten rule subscribed to by all schools precludes colored boys from participating in basketball, swimming, and wrestling.”

Referred to as the" gentleman's agreement," the "unwritten rule," or the "lily-white rule," the color line in basketball came under increasing attack throughout the 1940s as more and more talented black players were being overlooked solely because of their race. During the 1944-1945 season, African American Richard (Dick) Culberson played varsity at the University of Iowa, but coaches largely regarded his participation as an exception rather than the rule. According to correspondence between Tom Graham and the Sports Information Director at the University of Iowa in February 2017, Culberson was a reserve rather than a starter, and wartime conditions made it more difficult to field a team, thus leading to slightly relaxed rules.

In 1946, Hoosiers watched as African American Johnny Wilson led Anderson High School to the state high school basketball title and was named Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" for the season. Despite his talent however, Wilson was not recruited by Purdue or IU, or any of the state's bigger universities. In fact, at a luncheon that spring in which Branch McCracken was a speaker, the IU coach stated that he did not think Wilson, one of the state's best players, could not make his team.

In 1947, after African American Bill Garrett helped lead Selbyville High School to the state high school basketball title, newspapers across the state questioned if he too would be bypassed by Indiana's bigger universities and be forced to play at a smaller school or go out of state as a result of his race. Determined to prevent this from happening, Faburn DeFrantz, Executive Director of the Senate Avenue YMCA in Indianapolis, and other Indianapolis black leaders banded together in order to persuade IU President Herman B Wells to give Garrett an opportunity to make the school's team. After meeting with DeFrantz and the others, Wells asked McCracken to give Garrett a chance to make the team, noting that he would handle any backlash from other Big Ten coaches. McCracken gave Garrett a chance and coached Garrett on his varsity squad for three seasons. During this time, IU's record not only improved vastly from the mid-1940s, but Garrett's talent and character and McCracken's willingness to coach him also helped open the door for other African American players to join Big Ten basketball squads in the years that followed.

[14] “Big 10 Leaders Led By Leonard,” Indianapolis Star, January 13, 1953, 24; “Hoosier Five is More Than 1-Man Team,” [Valparaiso] Vidette Messenger, February 6, 1953, 9; “Schlundt, Team Shatter Records,” Indianapolis Star, February 24, 1953, 21; “ Indiana Big 10 Champion After 91-79 Victory,” [Richmond] Palladium-Item, March 1, 1953, 17; “On Top of the Heap,” Indianapolis Star, March 3, 1953, 18; “Indiana Stops Iowa, 68-61, in Big 10 Net Finale,” [Richmond] Palladium-Item, March 10, 1953, 8; "I.U. Coach to Speak at Boys' Club Dinner April 23," Rushville Republican, March 14, 1953, 1; Charles A. Beal, Jr., "Free Toss By Leonard Tips Kansas," Indianapolis Star, March 19, 1953, 1, 35; “Coach of the Year,” [Columbus] Republic, March 21, 1953, 4; “McCracken is Coach of the Year,” St. Cloud [Minnesota] Times, March 26, 1953, 20.

After starting the 1952-1953 season with a 1-2 record, McCracken’s IU Hoosiers would go on to win its next seventeen straight games. On January 13, 1953, the Indianapolis Star recapped the Hoosiers’ 88-68 defeat of Ohio State the previous evening. According to the Star:

There was no stopping Coach Branch McCracken’s Big Ten leaders as they sizzled the nets at the start for their sixth conference victory without defeat. Ranked fifth in the country by the United Press board of coaches, Indiana has won seven of nine contests…

IU was just getting started. In a February 6, 1953 article republished in the [Valparaiso] Vidette Messenger, McCracken praised his entire team, noting that it wasn’t one or two players who were contributing to the Hoosiers’ greatness that year, but rather a full team effort. On February 23, 1953, IU trampled Purdue 113-78. According to the Indianapolis Star (February 24), IU’s 113 points in the game broke the previous Big Ten record of 103 set by Iowa in 1944. By March 1, the Hoosiers were guaranteed sole claim to the Big Ten title after defeating Illinois, 91-79. In its praise of the team, the Star reported (March 3):

There is no question about it now. The Indiana University basketball team is exactly what its coach, Branch McCracken, called it after its Illinois victory, ‘the greatest team in the country.’ That stunning 91-79 victory over one of the toughest teams in the nation has not only brought Indiana its first undisputed Big 10 title in history, but has also pushed it right up into the title of No. 1 team in America.

By the end of the regular season, Indiana’s record was 19-3, with seventeen conference wins to one loss. The team defeated DePaul, Notre Dame, and LSU, in the postseason, earning the chance to play Kansas once again for the national championship on March 18. With thirty seconds remaining in the title game, Bob Leonard of the Hoosiers made his second of two free throws to give IU a 69-68 lead. According to the Star, Kansas had an opportunity to sink the winning shot, but couldn’t make it in, giving the Hoosiers their second national title.

McCracken’s leadership during the season did not go unnoticed. In a March 14, 1953 article, the Rushville Republican noted that McCracken had “gained tremendous popularity this season” and that he had been named second in the annual poll of sports editors for “Coach of the Year.” Less than two weeks later, newspapers reported that the Philadelphia Basketball Writers Association had named him “Coach of the Year.”

For more information on IU’s record, game scores, and its players during this season, see the Indiana Basketball Men’s Database

[15] "McCracken Resigns as Hoosier Coach," [Richmond] Palladium-Item, March 3, 1965, 16; Ray Marquette, "McCracken Resigns as I.U. Coach: Ends 24 Seasons Gives No Reason for Action," Indianapolis Star, March 3, 1965, 1, 27; "Watson Gets McCracken's Job," Indianapolis Star, March 4, 1965, 1; "Emmett B. 'Branch' McCracken," Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, accessed http://www.hoophall.com/hall-of-famers/.

On March 3, 1965, newspapers across the country reported the news that McCracken had resigned as head coach of I.U.'s varsity basketball team, effective at the end of the season. McCracken had coached at I.U. for twenty-four seasons. Added to this were the eight seasons he coached at Ball State, for a total of thirty-two seasons at the helm of a Hoosier team. According to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he compiled a 450-231 record during those thirty-two seasons.

In his letter of resignation, a transcript of which was included in the Indianapolis Star on March 3, 1965, McCracken stated:

My association with Indiana University as a student, player, and coach has been a long and rewarding one. I am sincerely grateful to those alumni, friends, faculty, administrators, coaches-and especially to those fine young men who have played for me-for giving me the opportunity to serve Indiana University as head basketball coach to the best of my ability.

Although he gave no specific reason for his retirement, I.U. President Elvis J. Stahr reported that McCracken had coached many years and made the decision to retire before his health gave out.

Reflecting on his experiences as coach, McCracken stated:

I've never regretted my profession. Taking kids and helping to make something out of them is the most rewarding part of my job. Basketball has been good to me. It's made me lots of friends and I owe the game more than I can ever repay.

Lou Watson, assistant basketball coach at I.U., was named to succeed McCracken. See Indianapolis Star, March 3, 1965, 27, for more on McCracken's retirement.

[16] Medical Certificate of Death, E Branch McCracken, June 4, 1970, Indiana State Board of Health, accessed Ancestry.com; "Emmett Branch McCracken," accessed Find A Grave; Ray Marquette, "Branch McCracken of I.U. Fame Dies: Cage Coach 364-174 in 24 Seasons," Indianapolis Star, June 5, 1970, 43.

McCracken died on June 4, 1970 as a result of heart failure. He was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Hall, Indiana, located in Morgan County.

Keywords

Sports, Education, African American