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Penn History

John Wideman and the 1963 City Basketball Champions

This exhibit was researched and written by Elliot A. Greenwald, University Archives Summer Research Fellow, 2000-2002.

This essay appears here without footnotes, bibliography, and other source documentation. A printed copy of the full text is available in the reference collection of the University Archives. All intellectual property rights, including copyright, are reserved by the author and the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.


Basketball, Penn vs. Villanova, 1963
The 1963 Penn Basketball team did not play in the NCCA tournament. They did not even win the Ivy League Title. In many ways, though, the success of the 1963 basketball team may never be matched. In 1963, Penn won its first Big 5 title, crowning the team as the best in Philadelphia. Looking closely at the individual players’ experience at Penn, though, reveals the teams’ truly remarkable accomplishments. No other Penn athletic team will ever consist of as many dynamic intellectuals and leaders that perfectly fulfill the intended Ivy League relationship between academics and athleticism. Based on the undergraduate achievements and activities of the team alone, competing, but not necessarily winning basketball games would.

Despite receiving individual attention for their off-court achievements, the success of the team did not depend on any one single individual. While their shared desire to succeed provided the necessary team cohesion for victory, their distinct background differences, specifically racial, prevented them from becoming true friends off of the court. Of the eighteen players on the team, senior Captain John Edgar Wideman and sophomore reserve Edward Temple Anderson were the only African American and non-white players on the team. While athletes of all racial backgrounds had no issues balancing academic and athletic success, minority students regardless of intelligence or athleticism were always conscious of their race and could not assimilate into the overwhelmingly white campus community.