Jacksonville Who


Walter Merz

Artis Gilmore, Greg Nelson, and Rod McIntyre answer questions from the moderator Associate Professor of Sociology Heather Downs and students during the panel held on Feb.20. at the Gooding Auditorium.

Gabriela Lovera

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—  On Feb. 20 students, staff, and alumni gathered in the Gooding Auditorium for the anticipated premiere of “Jacksonville Who? a documentary produced by JU alumni Frank Pace and Steve Brodeur.

The film tells the story of the legendary 1969-70 JU men’s basketball team and how Jacksonville University became the smallest school to ever attend an NCAA championship final.

“Jacksonville Who?” illustrates how the JU Dolphins not only triumphed over racial barriers but defeated opponents on the court. Their triumphs and hard work ultimately took the Dolphins to play against the University of California, Los Angeles at NCAA National Championship game.

For Executive Producer Frank Pace, the film’s conception unknowingly began during his time as a student at JU.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but the planning of the film began in 1969,” wrote Pace in an online interview. “The execution began about four years ago when another JU alumnus, Steve Brodeur, approached me with the idea of doing the film. Steve became my partner in the film.”

According to Pace, the documentary took about 13 months from conception to completion.

The producers’ goal was to develop a film that could teach younger generations about the 1969-70 JU Dolphin’s and the team’s legacy.

“It is an educational film meant to appeal to a younger audience who maybe aren’t aware of the racial and political obstacles the team had to overcome in the South,” wrote Pace.

The projection of the documentary was followed by a panel led by Associate Professor of Sociology Heather Downs. The panel featured members of the 1969-70 JU basketball team and storytellers in the documentary: Artis Gilmore, Rod McIntyre, and Greg Nelson.

For JU alumnus Rod McIntyre the documentary commemorates the legacy of 1969-70 Dolphins.

“I think the film speaks of the heritage of our basketball team and what a great thrill it was, how it galvanized the community and the city,” said McIntyre. “It was a Cinderella story and everybody loves a Cinderella story in sports.”

Even though there were racial barriers in Jacksonville at the time, McIntyre assured that the team rose above racial distinctions.

“We didn’t see black or white,” said McIntyre. “Because of that attribute, because what we did as a team, the city apparently caught the same wind.”

McIntyre stated that the effect the team had on the Jacksonville community was the end result of the team’s passion for the game.

“We were not there trying to make a racial statement to the community, we were out there trying to play basketball,” said McIntyre.

For Artis Gilmore, JU alumnus and Basketball Hall of Fame player,  the documentary does more than just tell a story; it shows how a small school from the Deep South made a difference not only in the court but also in the community.

“I’m proud to be part of something so memorable that has made a major contribution to this community as well as this university,” said Gilmore.

Students were also impacted by the film. For freshman Meredith Sprague, the documentary gave her a new perspective on JU’s history.

“I really enjoyed watching ‘Jacksonville Who?’ It’s inspiring to see all of the barriers they broke for the Jacksonville community,” said Sprague. “I had no idea JU had such a cool past.”

For Pace, the documentary illustrates how the 1969-70 Men’s basketball team overcame obstacles with perseverance and hard work.

“The team proved that we all are capable of great things,” wrote Pace. “With a little hard work and a little luck anything is possible.”