Howard Murphy's No. 33 Jersey Officially Retired September 9th
Morehead State Athletic Hall of Fame member Howard Murphy's No. 33 football jersey was officially retired September 9th in a ceremony at the Morehead Conference Center.
The late Murphy was a standout tailback and defensive back for MSU from 1960-63. His wife Jennie and several of his family were on hand as his jersey plaque was unveiled. It is the 12th to adorn Jayne Stadium.
The ceremony and dinner was also attended by many of Murphy's former teammates, the first African-American student-athlete at MSU Dr. Marshall Banks, and Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche, along with Morehead State University President Dr. Wayne Andrews and Director of Athletics Brian Hutchinson. Murphy was the first African-American to play football at MSU and the first in the OVC.
"Howard never met a stranger," said Jennie. "He had a very outgoing personality, and I think he would be very humbled to see what the university is doing for him. There is a lot of excitement for our family, and especially for his two sons who are here. They have a lot of Howard in them too."
One of Murphy's teammates was Mike Gottfried. Also in the MSU Athletic Hall of Fame and the former lead college football analyst for ESPN, Gottfried played alongside Murphy in 1962 and 1963. He was the quarterback who handed the ball off numerous times to Murphy.
"Howard was a great high school athlete, and Ohio State wanted him to come play football there, but he chose to come to Morehead State," Gottfried recalled. "Being the first African-American player, he took some abuse on the field and from the crowds, but you know, he never got mad. I have a lot people ask me 'how good was he.' I had four tailbacks when I coached at Pittsburgh who went to the NFL, and Howard was better than any of them."
DeBauche, who has served as the OVC Commissioner since 2009, reflected on the storied history of the league and its place as a trailblazer for integration.
"The OVC is starting its 69th year, and without the trailblazers like Mr. Murphy and Dr. Banks, we are not where we are right now," she said. "It is so very important to remember this history and celebrate this history."
The Springfield, Ohio, native was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990. Murphy rushed for 1,447 yards and 13 touchdowns in his time at MSU.
He was selected First-Team All-OVC in 1962 and Second-Team All-OVC in 1961 when he paced the conference with 6.3 yards per carry. He was also named a Little All-American in 1961. Murphy was also an accomplished track athlete, setting a then-OVC record with a time of 9.7 in the 100-yard dash.
He and his family were honored again publically on September 10th during Morehead State's home-opening football game versus Virginia Military Institute.