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. He 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.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 31, 2018
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.