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C.M. Newton dies at 88


Naismith Hall of Famer and former UK athletic director C.M. Newton died Monday at the age of 88.

Newton also played basketball (1951 national champion) and baseball for the Cats. Newton was hired as the athletic director at UK in 1989 and served Kentucky until 2000. Mitch Barnhart has said on record that Newton recommended John Calipari during the 2009 coaching search.

He was born in Rockwood, Tenn., but his family moved to Fort Lauderdale during the Great Depression before Newton turned one.

Newton didn’t make the Hall of Fame because of his basketball accolades as a player at UK. He played in just 22 games as a Wildcat basketball player. HeĀ  scored 27 points in his UK career, but Hall of Famer Frank Ramsey said that he won UK the 1951 Eastern Regional championship because of Newton’s defensive contributions. UK would go on to win the title.

On Adolph Rupp’s recommendation, Newton would go on to coach Transylvania’s basketball team directly out of college while still playing baseball for the Cats and ultimately signing with the Yankee’s organization.

After leaving for the Air Force Newton came back and gave up baseball to be a full-time coach at Transylvania. But he wouldn’t stay in Lexington forever. Paul “Bear” Bryant called Newton to take over Alabama’s basketball program.

Newton would accept as long as he would be allowed to recruit African Americans, which was assured by Bryant. It didn’t take long for Newton to sign the first black scholarship athlete in Alabama history (Wendell Hudson).

He did as much as anyone in the SEC when it came to integrating the conference. In 1973 he had the SEC’s first all-black starting lineup and hired UK’s first black men’s and women’s basketball coaches.

During 12 seasons at Alabama Newton went 211-123 and won three SEC Titles and was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1972 and 1976. He was named the head coach at Vanderbilt in 1982 after a two year stretch being the associate commissioner of the SEC.

Newton returned to UK in 1989 to become the athletic director and almost immediately hired Rick Pitino, who turned around UK’s program in short time.

Newton’s health had been deteriorating over the last few months and Calipari asked fans to pray for him. We you all will continue to keep Newton and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

This was a guy that did it all during his life in athletics. He was friends with Rupp, Bear Bryant, Joe B. Hall, Calipari and several other greats. What a representative he was for UK sports and the SEC. Rest in peace to a UK and SEC great.

Article written by TJ Walker

13 responses to “C.M. Newton dies at 88”

  1. (Aixelsyd)0505

    R.i.P

  2. Wade

    This man lived a hell of a life. Am very impressed and in awe at his accomplishments, what a role model. Will say a prayer for him and his family while they and all he has touched celebrate his life.

  3. westkycat20

    CM Newton will be missed by many I am sure of that. As mentioned above, he lived a great life and was deserving of all of his accomplishments. Prayers to his family and for his lasting legacy.

  4. ukkatzfan

    Man of high character.

  5. bigbluebanana

    UK legend. Rest In Peace Mr. Newton

  6. Memphis UK Cat

    What a career and a great one has passed on who made such a huge impact at Kentucky and Alabama. R.I.P. CM you will be missed.

  7. serdi

    I had the honor to initiate C.M. into the SAE hall of fame at UK in 1974. He was a great guy and dearly loved UK.

    1. Ridge Runner

      Great memory you have to hold onto, serdi.

  8. Ridge Runner

    As many have said, a good man and Condolences to his family. Rest now, Wildcat…

  9. shelby

    Prayers for his family; my dad, a lifelong Uk fan passed saturday. Perhaps he and CM can talk UK in heaven.

    1. crazycatfan65

      Sorry for your loss Shelby, prayers for you and your family and CM’s family

    2. Ridge Runner

      Yes, so sorry Shelby

  10. DrewP

    RIP CM