By Barney Blakeney
Few individuals get the opportunity to experience being living legends. Otto German is among them. German was the first African-American male basketball star at Moultrie High School and the second African-American male basketball player at the College of Charleston. Currently the NCAA compliance officer at the College of Charleston, he has spent some 44 years in service to the institution.
A 1969 graduate of Moultrie High School where he was named Lowcountry Player of the Year, when German first arrived on campus almost 50 years ago, there were just 445 students at the school. In his sophomore year he joined Remus Harper, the first African American basketball player on the team established in 1898.
Being a trailblazer was somewhat familiar to German. He was one of seven black students – among 1,500 white students – who helped integrate Moultrie High School in Mt. Pleasant. He didn’t join Moultrie’s basketball team until his junior year. But by his senior year he was considered the best basketball player in the Lowcountry and led Moultrie to the Lower State Finals.
German says he had plenty role models to follow – other trailblazers like Eddie Ganaway ’71, the College’s first black graduate; Carrie Nesbitt Gibbs ’72, the first black female graduate; Remus Harper ’72; Fred Daniels, the former men’s basketball coach and admissions director; Lucille Simmons Whipper, the first black administrator; and Marvin Dulaney, a former history professor and Avery Research Center executive director.
After graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in education, German went to work at the College in financial aid, student activities and admissions before moving over to the athletics department, where he has been for 26 years, rising to the post of associate director of athletics/NCAA compliance.
Before assuming his current post in 1992, German served as an Assistant Director of Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs from 1973-76 and was the Assistant Director of Student Activities from 1976-79. He later assumed the role of Assistant Director of Admissions from 1979-86 and then Associate Dean of Admissions from 1986-92. Prior to his full-time appointment, he served as an assistant basketball coach at Porter Gaud School from 1976-80 and at Wando High School from 1989-92.
A native of Mount Pleasant’s Old Village neighborhood, German is involved in the community as well. He served on the Parks and Recreation Commission for seven years, the Mt. Pleasant Election Commission for six years and as a recreational youth basketball and football coach for six years.
A widower and father to three children and 10 grandchildren, modesty is among German’s most noticeable traits. But the scores of Black athletes who have come behind him know the path he pioneered. Since Harper’s and German’s time as players, College of Charleston basketball has soared – in 1983, the Cougars won the NAIA Championship. In the 1991–92 season the Cougars made the jump to Division 1 and beat UNC–Charlotte in their first game. In the 1998–99 season the team joined the Southern Conference winning its only SoCon tournament championship that year. In 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2018, the Cougars reached the NCAA tournament, with a record of 1–5, beating Maryland in the opening round in 1997. In 1995 and 1996, the Cougars made the NIT. The program’s biggest regular season win in school history was over then-No. 3 ranked North Carolina on December 6, 1998.