Howard University Athletic Director William Moultrie wants to clarify a statement attributed to him in a story in yesterday's Post. He meant that former Alabama football coach Bear Bryant "did more for integration in athletics in the state of Alabama than Martin Luther King." (Published 10/12/90)

Since Brian McLean left a rural corner of Maryland to come to Howard University three years ago, he has made many new friends. That is fortunate, because he no longer has many of his old ones.

He is one of two white members (reserve kicker Fred Nicolaisen is the other) of the 87-member football team at the predominantly black school. His college experience has caused more changes in his life than most students ever encounter.

"I really have only one friend left from back home," said McLean, who went to South Carroll High School in the Maryland countryside. "She played basketball at the University of Virginia so she understood. But most of my friends were redneck types who didn't understand why I was coming to a black school. . . . We are no longer friends, not so much because they rejected me, but more because I learned that I didn't care for the way they thought."

McLean, who is 6 feet 8, 285 pounds, started only two games in high school. Despite his inexperience, the previous Howard coaching staff offered him a scholarship based on his size.

Saturday, he was the starting right tackle for the 5-0 Bison, who extended the nation's longest I-AA winning streak to nine by drubbing visiting Bethune-Cookman.

In recent years, the percentage of white students attending historically black colleges has slowly risen. About 3 percent of the Howard student body is white. Now Howard is committed to upgrading its football program and it would not be surprising to see more whites playing for the Bison.

"I feel we can recruit anywhere in the country, and we can try to recruit anyone," said Coach Steve Wilson. "We recruited white athletes last year -- we just didn't get any. But we will continue to recruit any athlete we think will help us and we will have an open mind. When you go after only one sector, that automatically leaves you with a smaller piece of the pie."

Over the past decade, whites have not been uncommon in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Delaware State, once the league's perennial doormat, became one of the league's powers under Joe Purzycki, the first white to coach at a predominantly black school.

Having broken one barrier at a school that lost to Portland State 105-0 in 1980, the year before his arrival, Purzycki figured he had little to lose by trying to recruit several white players. One was offensive lineman Franz Kappel, who went on to become the first white player named to the black college all-American team.

"I don't think it is easy to be that 1 or 2 percent at a black college," said Purzycki, now the coach at James Madison. "If it had no effect on a kid, that would have to be a very special young man. Race was always the first factor discussed when I was trying to recruit a white player, but we never had a problem. From my experience, I have found that players hang out with their friends. Sometimes, the friends of white players happen to be black."

McLean says he has not encountered one racial problem at Howard. He says his closest friends are Paul Ramseur and Rob Carpenter, two other members of Howard's offensive line, known as Dean's Dozers after line coach Fred Dean.

"I don't think anything has been any different for me than what I pictured it would be going to a white school," said McLean, who said he feels very comfortable socially on campus. "It has come to a point where I don't know that many white people, other than my family and a couple of close friends."

Throughout the summer, he commuted 80 miles daily from his home to work out, attend classes toward his engineering degree and spend time with his friends at Howard.

Ramseur said McLean easily fits in at Howard. He said McLean handled the situation much better than anyone could have anticipated.

"When you are a freshman anywhere, you have problems," said Ramseur. "When you are a white freshman -- especially a 6-foot-8 white freshman at a black school -- you would expect to have double the problems. But Brian is a unique individual. Everything rolls off him like water rolls off a duck's back. When he got his freshman hazing, he got it like everyone else."

Ramseur said McLean's presence has presented some light moments for the Howard players.

"When we go to hotels on road trips, people will ask us what team we play for and we say, 'Howard,' " said Ramseur. "Then they ask Brian what team he is with."

McLean said the only bad experience connected with his decision to go to Howard came soon after he announced his college plans.

"A local paper printed that I had taken a scholarship to Howard, but I really thought they put it in a way meant to be negative," he said.

He said accepting the scholarship to Howard was not a difficult decision. "It was an opportunity to go to school for free, but my parents didn't want me to do it just because of the money," he said. "But I don't have any regrets at all."

Kappel did have reservations before deciding on Delaware State.

"Honestly, it was embarrassing going here," said Kappel, 28, who has returned to Delaware State as an assistant coach. "They had lost that game so bad the year before, and the first day I looked around and said, 'What am I doing here?' "

He said the only significant negative memory he has of his college days came far away from Delaware.

"My junior year, I went to a party in the state of Ohio, and some people asked me to tell other people I went to the University of Delaware rather than Del State," he said. "I got about half-mad, but by that time it never bothered me that I went to a black school so, if anyone asked, I told them I went to Del State. Of course, I weighed about 285 by then so I didn't care what anyone thought."

MEAC Commissioner Ken Free likes the idea that black schools are no longer recruiting only blacks.

"Traditionally, the white players we have had are in the specialty area, like kickers," said Free. "But I think it would be great to get more white players in the skill area. We have always been open to this and we hope we can convince kids in skill areas to give us a try. . . . I think there is room {for whites at black colleges}. If someone can sell our programs to anyone, it is good. It shows people are having a better opinion of our schools."

Athletic Director William Moultrie said Howard has had white athletes in baseball, track and football throughout his 17 years there. He hopes his coaches pursue white athletes without hesitation.

"I think there will always be pockets of resistance toward {recruiting white athletes}," said Moultrie. "But it is 1990, and this should not even be discussed as a newsworthy item."

However, he said integration through sports was very important over the past two decades, particularly after late coach Bear Bryant opened the door for black athletes at southern schools by deciding to recruit blacks at Alabama.

"Whatever his reasons were," said Moultrie, "Bear Bryant did more for integration in this country than Martin Luther King."