EL PASO, Texas – Willie Cager, beloved member of Texas Western’s 1966 NCAA Championship team, has passed away at the age of 81.
Cager made a lasting impact at the university beyond his time as a student-athlete. He was a fixture in El Paso and attended countless men’s and women’s basketball home games over the years. In March of 2022, the Willie Cager Endowed Basketball Scholarship was announced by the Miner Athletic Club. The scholarship is funded by donor Don Scott to honor Cager.
A skilled low-post player, Cager appeared in 77 contests for the Miners from 1964-68 and averaged 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins.
Cager is best known for playing with the 1966 Texas Western squad that made history by starting five black players to defeat Kentucky, 72-65, and win the 1966 NCAA Championship on the way to inspiring the Disney hit movie Glory Road. In that championship contest, Cager contributed eight points and six boards.
He went on to be drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in the 12th round of the 1968 NBA Draft, but partly due to a heart condition, he never competed as a professional.