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CM Newton Really Talked About Joining the ACC?


With Louisville officially joining the ACC at the beginning of next month, buzz about conference realignment has started to pick up again.  Speaking of the ACC, was there ever a moment where Kentucky officials discussed a move?  Yesterday, Mark Story of the Herald-Leader posted an article with comments from former UK Athletic Director, CM Newton.  Surprisingly, the answer to my question is yes.

Back in the early 90’s, Newton and then UK president, Charles Wethington, actually explored a potential move to the ACC.  While discussions were kept very secret, reasons were obvious at the time.  Kentucky football continued it struggles against SEC opponents, and yearly meetings with teams like Duke, UNC, and Florida St in basketball were very enticing.

“We talked to them very seriously, but very quietly,” Newton said last week. “Dr. Wethington had me go over and talk to them for a short period one evening.  They wanted us to come on and join their league.  I thought, with the way (UK) football was (struggling in the SEC), that might have been the best path for us. I always felt like (Florida State) was an SEC school in the ACC and Kentucky an ACC school in the SEC.  There were a lot of ways in which I thought (UK moving to) the ACC made sense, but at the end of the day, it’s just doggone tough for a school to leave the SEC.”

It may be just me, but the traditions and rivalries created within the SEC are far too much to throw away.  What are your thoughts on UK almost making the move to the ACC?  To read the entire article, you can follow this link to the Herald-Leader’s post.

Article written by Kory Henry

"We will kick, pass, and run, til the battle is won!" Bleeding blue since 1990. @KoryHenryKSR

45 responses to “CM Newton Really Talked About Joining the ACC?”

  1. Calf

    “I thought, with the way (UK) football was (struggling in the SEC), that might have been the best path for us.”

    And the reason football was struggling was you C.M. and other baskeetbaww powers that never wanted to pull any attention away from their precious baskeetbaww.

    1. ^Donkey

      Yeah and it had nothing to do with the fact that basically no good football recruit wants to play in the shadows of the best basketball program in the nation. That’s the real reason we will NEVER have a legitimate football team on any kind of consistent basis. But keep telling yourself whatever you wanna hear, that’s fine with me.

    2. TDog

      Donkey you obviously have not been following football lately. Kentucky has pulled in two straight top 25 classes better than multiple SEC schools each time. Before making ignorant comments please do research.

    3. Melvit

      Using insulting comments and stereotypes is the easiest way to discredit your argument.

    4. Watch What I do here...and don't miss attention....

      “Donkey” is an ass.

  2. The Loco Pollo

    The money is what is too much to throw away.

  3. Tod Lanter's Missing D

    It’s not the traditions, it is the security and cash offered by the SEC that are too much to walk away from. Just a year or two ago there was legitimate reason to believe the ACC may cease to exist. They won that round and the Big East died instead, but the ACC is still on the weakest footing of any of the “major” conferences. A smaller pay day and a round of expansion from becoming a reconstituted Big East? No, thanks.

  4. Billy Hill

    They should still go to the ACC. Look, we can beat anyone in basketball, it doesn’t matter which conference, but we are going to continually get pounded in football in the SEC. The SEC is a football conference and we are a basketball school. Time to move.

    1. DC_Cat

      You sir, are an idiot.

  5. caliborne_field

    Never understand why this topic comes up every now and then.
    We are a founding member of the conference- tuck and run is not the answer. Buck up!

  6. Alex

    I like being involved in SEC football…even if we are not contenders…the tailgating, atmosphere, prestige is well worth it.

  7. Brandon

    Do it! What traditions? Pounding Tennessee in basketball only to have the same done to us in football? The hope of maybe getting one by Spurrier? The new traditions would be much better! Home and aways with potentially unc, duke, and louisville? Not to mention a much more competitive conference schedule. While maybe being able to win a few games with the football team. This would be a great move. Get over the fact that you can’t chant sec sec sec when you’re team didn’t even beat an “sec” team.

  8. ransmith

    I would be surprised if UK had not had talks. You can build a good case as to why UK would be a good fit. The ACC is a basketball conference and UK a basketball school. From a pure basketball quality of games point UK should be in the ACC. UK can also do much better in football against ACC teams. So sure, how could they have not talked.

    However, UK is a founding member of the SEC, lots of history and the economics is much better in the SEC. Hard to walk away from all of that!!!

  9. tltaworl

    I would rather go 7-5 and accomplish something in the SEC than 9-3 in a weak conference. Unless we are competitive with FSU & Clempson

  10. Yep

    I agree with CM’s FSU/UK conference assessment. It would be a better fit for both schools, but that doesn’t mean I would trade places.

  11. Joe

    I love this p%$$y attitude by the basketball-only fans. I swear I hate them so much and they’ve almost made me swear off UK all together at times (if I hadn’t attended school there I would have) just to not be associated with them.

    1. Melvit


  12. 2mites

    Football is money win or not for UK. Bottom line rules, just simple math. UK has a losing record against EVERY team in the SEC and will be decades before that changes a lot, but at least Stoops is on the right track now. If he gets the Cats winning in the SEC again that is MUCH better than winning in the ACC.

    1. Reality

      Two wins is on the right track? Lmao. I remember the same stories of Joker being a great recruiter and we just need to give him time. UK lost out on their one opportunity to have a real program when they didn’t hire Petrino…..enjoy the ride

    2. Real World

      If you cant tell the difference between Stoops and Joker then you have a problem. I would rather lose every game every year than have Petrino as the coach. Some things are bigger than sports and being a terrible human being is one of them.

  13. John Ellis

    After Wes Unseld and Jim McDaniels wouldn’t come to UK for Rupp because of the horrid attitudes of the SEC’s schools and their fans at the time, Rupp considered leaving for the ACC I heard. Wish he had.

    1. serdi

      Let’s not forget that the ACC during most of Coach Rupp’s tenure was segregated. No blacks. In fact, the ACC had an elevated entrance score and grades at that time and it was seen as nothing more as a way to keep it segregated. Mike Corso who played at UofL couldn’t meet the ACC grade and test score standards to get into South Carolina (then in the ACC).

      BTW, The SEC was already integrated by the time Jim McDaniels decided not to go to UK and go to Western Kentucky. No doubt if some of the Kentucky kids on that Western team had gone to UK, we’d had another banner hanging. Had Unseld and Beard come to UK, that would have been at least one more banner.

  14. Nitpic

    The ACC map you present didn’t look like that in early 90’s

  15. catfan4life

    Look, we can win in football, but it takes patience and the will from administrators. Look at the recruits coming on board now. Not saying Stoops will be the guy and even if he is will he stay here, but it can happen with $$$’s! If UK coach hiring record was as good for football as it has been for basketball the record would be much improved. GA should be at or near the top in basketball and football every year, but they aren’t. Why, same reason as UK in football. Will they ever get their act straightened out, maybe, but they could and so could UK!

    1. 44 Stitches

      Completely agree. I’ve lived in Georgia over 20 years. The amount of talent this state produces not just in football but basketball and even baseball is unreal.

  16. Eric

    Let’s equate this to something in our everyday lives: Would you rather get paid 200,000 dollars a year and have a boss that is an a-hole who berates and degrades you, or make 50,000 dollars a year and be your own boss. I would say 95% of us would choose more money.

    Our football program, no matter if it is good or bad, brings in more money than basketball. Football drives the bus financially. 30 years ago when TV deals were smaller or nonexistent, you could think of moves like the one CM Newton was contemplating.

    I know its just a pipe dream, but i wish that people who only liked basketball would keep their mouths shut about how they feel about our football program. Kentucky CAN have a successful football program that is exciting and keeps the fans happy. Rich Brooks did it before we invested 110 million in our stadium and even more in a new practice facility. We can get there again! 8-4/9-3 is possible.

    1. asdf

      “8-4/9-3 is possible.”

      We know we can get to that level. We’ve done it several times over the years.

      Our issue has always been our failure to maintain it.

  17. asdf

    If we had gone to the ACC, the league office would have had to move to neutral territory, especially the office in charge of officiating. We would not have tolerated the “North Carolina schools always get the whistle” nature of the ACC.

  18. Truth

    Only the hick portion of our fanbase wants to stay in the SEC. These people are too stupid to realize leaving is the best for football.

    1. Melvit

      Using insulting comments and stereotypes is the easiest way to discredit your argument.

  19. RealUKFan

    A league that would actually accept ul is not a league worthy of a UK association.

  20. Surprise In My Levis

    We would never turn down The SEC welfare check, especially today. Lord knows ole Mitch can’t fund raise to save his life.

    1. Calf

      The new PRIVATELY funded football practice complex will disagree with you.

    2. hangupandlisten


  21. Rick in TX

    It’s not just the income side of the equation that C.M. Newton was talking about. It would cost a boatload of money, I think the current amount is north of $50 million, for us to get out of the SEC.

    1. hangupandlisten

      There is no buyout in the SEC. No one wants to leave, unlike the ACC or whichever sister of the poor place UL came hence from

  22. Mr Kiddingme

    GLAD we didn’t make that move!! C M Newton was all about basketball,basketball,basketball and all AD’S before him—-Thats been the problem with football over the years—no support! Things will change now as they have at Vandy,Stanford,North Carolina,Baylor,because we now have support from the University and QUALITY coaches in both sports!!! This season the excitement will start!!!!

  23. Shredder

    Money drives the boat. The school should go wherever the money is. Having said that, the ACC would be a better conference today in terms of entertainment value for fans. We have no “rivals” in the SEC, point blank. UK football has to win in order to have a rivalry. There are some cupcakes in ACC football, but there are also some good programs. Look at UK’s bowl record since ’90. UK has had 8 bowl appearances and 7 of them were against current ACC schools. They have a 2-5 record, but somehow the ACC isn’t a “quality” conference?

    It’s hard to argue that the ACC isn’t a better basketball conference or UK.

  24. AD's Come and Go

    I used to really like, admire, and respect CM Newton. But after some of the things that have come out of his mouth the past few years, that feeling toward him has diminished greatly. His 2 head football coaching hires (Curry and Mumme) pretty much destroyed the football program to the point where it is today, still recovering. I don’t think he gets nearly enough blame for that. He did make a great hire in Pitino though.

  25. Biff Tannen

    The dirty little secret about CM Newton is that he wasn’t a very good AD. You all have pointed out several of his blunders, and not only that, we were force-fed the interlocking UK on his watch. Read more about that here:

  26. jhnny

    This really wasn’t a secret at the time. CM Newton would say in interviews at the time that UK seemed a better fit in the ACC. Not at all surprised that they actually met. There was even talk about the Big 10 being a better fit for UK.

  27. Bob

    This would have been an cheap way to side step what they finally have done. However the worst SEC team is better than the best ACC.

    1. Karl towns size 20

      Not in football. The best acc team jus won the title the worst sec team is not better than that.

  28. Soda

    What traditions and rivalries?

  29. JCBlue22

    If only the world were so simple. Sure, the move would be great for Kentucky basketball, and perhaps even all of college basketball, since 3 of the more successful and popular teams would be in the same league, there would no longer be a rivalry week, it would be rivalry month. Plus the haters would shut up about how Kentucky is only successful because of the weak league, and there isn’t a UK fan alive that would love the opportunity to tear Duke and coach K a new one year after year, and just about every conference game would be on ESPN, And yes, football might actually be watchable for the next few years with Stoops, but the SEC is still a brutal conference, and even in good years we will still only in the middle of the pack. but Kentucky is just too comfortable cash wise in the SEC. The SEC is old money, and good money at that. The ACC would have to completely redraw its payouts to lure UK away. So for UK the basic choice is better football and amazing basketball, but a massive pay cut for an already relatively cash-strapped school, and the stigma of ending tradition.