byThe University of Minnesota will retire former All-American football great Sandy Stephens' jersey at halftime of the Iowa/ Minnesota game this Saturday. Stephens' number 15 will continue to be worn by Golden Gopher athletes, but his jersey will be historically preserved.
The four-sport athlete from Uniontown, Pa., turned down professional baseball to become the first African-American All-American quarterback in NCAA history. A terrific option-style quarterback, he was the driving force behind the 1960 championship season. The former Heisman Trophy candidate played both sides of the football and was an emotional leader in the huddle.
Stephens was also responsible for Minnesota's Rose Bowl victory over UCLA in 1962. In that game, he scored two touchdowns, completed 7 of 11 passes for 75 yards and rushed for 46 more. He was voted player of the game for his performance, and on May 22, 1997, earned a place in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Stephens was named Big Ten Conference MVP and was given the College Back of the Year Award for his efforts throughout the 1961 season. Stephens was later inducted into the "M Club" Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 1999. Stephens was Minnesota's first significantly recruited African-American football player, was a major influence in the breakthrough of African-American athletes in collegiate athletics.
Minnesota will retire Stephens' jersey during a halftime ceremony to honor the 40th anniversary of the 1960 championship team at the Minnesota/Iowa game. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling the Golden Gopher ticket office at (612) 624-8080 or 1-800 UGOPHER. Tickets can also be purchased online, 24 hours a day at www.gophersports.com.