Mural by Adrienne Vetter depicting the Black 14 in Laramie, Wyoming. (Photo: Twitter)

One half-century ago, 14 black football players at the University of Wyoming wanted to protest racism. They were all booted from the football team before they could even make their case.

Back in October 1969, those Cowboy football players wanted to wear black armbands during a game against BYU to protest against racial injustice – including BYU’s policies against blacks in the priesthood and claims that BYU players used racial slurs against them during a game the prior season. The players went to Wyoming head coach Lloyd Eaton to plead their case, but he immediately dismissed them from the team and revoked their scholarships.

Fifty years later, “The Black 14” received a formal apology from the university during a dinner in the Wildcatter Stadium Club and Suites at War Memorial Stadium as the University of Wyoming held a commemorative week in honor of the 14 players. Eight of the 11 living members made it back to Wyoming’s campus ahead of the Cowboys’ game Saturday against Idaho, where the group was honored at halftime.

Wyoming Athletic Director Tom Burman read from an official apology letter from the school.

“Please accept this sincere apology from the University of Wyoming for the unfair way you were treated and for the hardships that treatment created for you,” the letter said. “We want to welcome you home as valued members of this institution and hope you accept our old Wyoming saying, ‘once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy.’”