ALFRED, New York, June 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Warren Sutton, a member of Alfred University's Class of 1961 and one of its finest basketball players, left Alfred in the fall of 1959 without a degree or a chance to garner a championship ring.
Now he has both, thanks to a former classmate and a University president willing to make amends.
Men's Coach Russ Phillips and his team, which won Alfred's first-ever Empire 8 championship and advanced to the second round of the Division III NCAA tournament this year, chose to give Sutton one of their rings.
"We were excited to recognize Warren with the ring," said Phillips, who met Sutton a few years ago, and was impressed by his "class and humility. He is exactly whom we want representing our program. We stayed in touch since then and knew he was following us closely this season so we agreed to include him in our success."
Sutton has known since March there was a ring with his name on it, but what he didn't expect was the presentation to be made at this year's Alfred University Reunion, before many of his former classmates.
"I feel that the team in my last year would have qualified [for the NCAA play-offs]," Sutton said. "We were very good. But we'll never know."
That's because Sutton and his coach, Pete Smith, both left the University that year. An African-American, Sutton was dating the Caucasian daughter of the University treasurer. Her father and other administration officials pressured Smith to persuade Sutton to end the relationship. Sutton, fearing the loss of his scholarship, withdrew.
When Mark Zupan became president of Alfred in 2016, Gary Ostrower '61, a history professor at Alfred, told Zupan about the injustice done to Sutton. To make amends, Zupan and the Trustees awarded Sutton an honorary degree in 2017.
Since reconnecting with Alfred University, Sutton has become an avid fan of Saxon basketball, streaming live games. "This year was a great team effort," said Sutton, adding, "Unfortunately, they met a hot team in the second round, that had been in the finals the previous year. We've lost some key players, but our younger players gained a lot of experience. They'll go deep again next year."
Sutton lives in Ontario, Canada, and retired from his job as a computer analyst for the city of Kitchener.
SOURCE Alfred University