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READ: The Undefeated discusses Adolph Rupp and Rupp Arena name change

University Press of Kentucky

University Press of Kentucky

Last month, faculty members of the African-American and Africana Studies (AAAS) program at the University of Kentucky submitted a letter to President Eli Capilouto asking for Rupp Arena’s name to be changed.

The faculty pointed to former Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp’s past and how his name has “come to stand for racism and exclusion in UK athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees.” It was one of several issues that they brought forth to Capilouto, although it became the primary talking point.

On Friday, over at The Undefeated, Jesse Washington posted a thought-provoking article titled Kentucky must reckon with the full meaning of Adolph Rupp” that went on to explain reasons why the University should look to change the Rupp Arena name.

In the article, Washington points to Rupp’s use of racist language in the past as a reason why the current version of Kentucky should remove the name. Washington argues that it could take more recent players such as Anthony Davis, John Wall, Rajon Rondo, etc. as the people whose voices promote a change.

There is one quote, in particular, from Harry Lancaster, who was one of Rupp’s assistant coaches and later became Kentucky’s athletic director, that gives a glimpse into why there is a portion of fans in favor of the name change.

Rupp told people as early as 1960 that he wanted to sign Black players, and hired a white assistant coach, Neil Reed, for that purpose in 1962. He unsuccessfully recruited future stars Wes Unseld in 1964 and Butch Beard in 1965. After the Texas Western game, Rupp was under heavy pressure from his university president to sign a Black player, even for the end of the bench. Lancaster wrote that Rupp told him, “Harry, that son of a b—- is ordering me to get some n—–s in here. What am I going to do?”

There are quotes from Pat Riley, Tubby Smith (Kentucky’s first Black head coach), and a UK Black studies professor within the piece, as well. Washington tried to gather comments from several former Wildcats and current head coach John Calipari, but was unsuccessful.

Whether or not the University will elect to change the name or not has yet to be determined. Earlier this year, a partnership between UK and Central Bank renamed the iconic basketball arena to “Rupp Arena at Central Bank”. Shortly after the announcement, Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart said he does not plan on changing the name.

“The name is tied to Coach Rupp and the Rupp family is so important for us, to protect that name and to make sure it is always remembered as the iconic place, family, name, leader of college basketball. Thank you for that. We intend to preserve that forever.

“It has to be Rupp Arena,” Barnhart continued. “When you’re recruiting, when you’re having teams come in here to play and people come in here, this is Rupp Arena. It’s set apart from all other places. … This one’s been this way for almost 50 years, and it can’t change.”

You can read the entire post by Washington over at The Undefeated by clicking the link here.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

20 Comments for READ: The Undefeated discusses Adolph Rupp and Rupp Arena name change

  1. TheBigjMan55
    9:21 pm August 7, 2020 Permalink

    The boosters didn’t want to. Not rupp. So why remove his name from ky history

  2. light my fire
    9:33 pm August 7, 2020 Permalink

    It’s just Another example of BS. They need to change also every single street named after Martin Luther King, he was an adulter posing as a reverend. But that don’t fit their agenda.

  3. crazycatfan65
    10:12 pm August 7, 2020 Permalink

    Black Lies Matter, the biggest racist, terrorist group this country has ever seen. Even the racist co founder proudly admits they are anti white and anti America.
    Why is it that everyone ALWAYS leaves out the biggest part of slavery? EVERY race has been a slave at some point in history, yet it is the black race that can’t seem to get over it. Could it be because it was THEIR own ancestors who put them into slavery? Remember, whites didn’t start black slavery, you can thank African kings and merchants for that. Africa kings and merchants were trading black slaves for hundreds of years before they ever saw the first white man. Maybe it’s time for schools to go back to teaching World history instead of just U.S. history. This country has bent over backwards to please the black race since the civil rights movement but yet the black community still blames everyone else for THEIR failures instead of looking in the mirror.

    • sharpshooter81
      12:00 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

      This is a irrelevant discussion. UK does not own Rupp arena in any way and will not even consider asking for the name change. This group asking for the name change should be told go to hell and you have no power to ask for shit. End of discussion.

    • 44stewart
      7:44 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

      This is one of the most blatant raciest posts I have seen on KSR.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      9:50 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

      44, I would not have said everything CCFan said above. I don’t agree with all of it. But I noticed you took no issue with the substance of anything he said. Is it racist to point out the historical fact that Africans sold other Africans into slavery? In no way do I believe it absolved others of their moral responsibility to not participate in such, but it is indeed a fact that it happened, and as I understand it, it is still happening, although not on the scale as it did at one time.

      Also, is it racist to point out the fact that BLM is a Marxist organization when the founders said so?

    • 44stewart
      6:54 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

      Yes it is raciest. When you try and say it’s ok others did it more than us. That is racist because your are ignoring the fact how wrong it was. And to say we bent over backwards since the civil Ruth’s movement???? Come on. Just show us your hood already. I mean look at all we gave them. The right to go to any school they wanted. The right to eat where they wanted. I mean yeah that’s really bending over backwards. The dudes a pure raciest. You know it. And anyone with a brain in their head knows he is.

  4. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    10:30 pm August 7, 2020 Permalink

    Notice all the names he mentioned are black and only 1 actual coach. He’s obviously a racist who thinks a white name on anything is bad. If he would have also said Calipari or Hall(who are both more successful then Tubby) he may have been capable of being taken seriously but he of course had to prove other wise.

  5. CrystalBall
    11:43 pm August 7, 2020 Permalink

    Bovine excrement.

  6. BowdenQB4ever
    12:07 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

    So sick of black people complaining.

  7. runningunnin.454
    12:16 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

    I read the whole thing; and, quite frankly, there are some problems, mostly having to do with a lack of research which is probably due to his haste to reach a desired conclusion.
    He wants pressure to change the name from former UK stars in the NBA; guess the fact that none of them knew Rupp is only a minor inconvenience. He is jubilant that the U. of Texas is renaming their field for black players; maybe he should research how Darrell Royal’s all-white Longhorn team treated the Syracuse black players in the ’60 Cotton Bowl, including Ernie Davis, the 1st African-American to win the Heisman.
    He talks about the all black Texas Western team; but, neglects to mention that their coach benched two white guys that had started all year so he could set up the confrontation. He also says TWC was “no one”. Actually both teams were 23-0 and ranked 1st and 3rd nationally when both teams suffered their only loss of the regular season.
    He says Rupp did not meet face to face with Wes Unseld; but, doesn’t bother to tell America that a meeting was scheduled, and it was Wes who canceled due to a scheduling conflict. Perry Wallace, who was the 1st AA to play in the SEC, played for Rupp in an all-star game; “He was extremely welcoming and gracious” He adds, “like older patriarchal men, both black and white, my father, my high school coach”.
    Yeah, he used a couple of bad words; so do African-American rap artists. Oh yeah, it doesn’t mean the same thing when they say it..l forgot.
    Pardon the run-on sentences; it’s late, and I’m tired, and fed up with people today attacking someone who can’t defend himself.

    • itsfootballtimeinthebluegrass
      2:08 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

      do u smoke p funks?

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      9:55 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

      Thanks RG for ALWAYS bringing the facts of this matter. And footballtime, it sounds like you were the one smoking something when you posted.

    • DerBaron
      9:09 am August 9, 2020 Permalink

      Rupp did meet Wes’ at home. I have a CJ by Larry Boeck detailing the visit. Mrs Unseld described the meeting as “very pleasant” and “they want Wesley and invited us to the visit the school”. Rupp delayed his visit because they had to make special arrangements for Wes when they played on the road. Ole Miss and Miss St agreed to play their home games against UK in Memphis.

  8. Jambluehue99
    9:10 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

    No one is perfect. None of these people ever met Rupp, and thus are not in a position to make a judgement on his character, beyond what they think they have learned someone else. If we are going to go back and only consider someone’s worst quality, real or perceived, we are all in trouble. Even Barack Obama has utter racially insensitive remarks, as has Bill Clinton, and current Democrat nominee Joe Biden. Should we strike them from history? Should we tear down the MLK monument on the National Mall since he is suspected of adultery and worse? It will never end. If we take people at their worst and label them as such, we neglect the good they have contributed to society? Rupp was a great basketball coach and has been honored as such. He doesn’t have an arena named after him because he was a great human being, although he might have been. He is revered for being a great basketball coach, that’s it. Jut as MLK is honored for the civil rights movement, not being a great husband. For those that see race in everything anyone else does, you are the problem, not the solution.

  9. DerBaron
    9:31 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

    This alleged uncorroborated quote came from Harry Lancaster’s book “Adolph Rupp How I knew Him” published in 1979. Funny how all these allegations/hearsay came after Rupp died so he couldn’t defend himself. Rupp and Lancaster had a bitter falling out over the AD job. Rupp has promised Lancaster the head coaching job once he retired but it looked like Rupp would stay forever. When the AD job came open Lancaster was hired. It was a classic case of an longtime underling becoming boss which never works out. Needless to say Rupp and Lancaster’s relationship was severely strained. It even got to the point they didn’t speak for several years. Lancaster recounts how he heard from a mutual friend was in UK Medical Center dying. He visited Rupp but its not clear they ever truly reconciled?

  10. Megan
    11:35 am August 8, 2020 Permalink

    Even in the quote by Lancaster, you see the apparent contradiction that is Rupp, a man who played integrated teams in 1951 when state laws banned interracial competition, the first basketball coach in the SEC or ACC to recruit black players — Felix Thruston of Owensboro in 1959 — but also a man who used the n-word, which, if we fairly consider context, we cannot judge by today’s standards. It wasn’t a nuclear bomb back then, a time when national nightly news anchors used words such as “colored” and “negro” and all manner of racial and national epithets and stereotypes were commonplace, even on children’s fruit-flavored drink mixes. We can look back now and wonder, “What were we thinking?” But we have to be careful about condemning everyone in the past.

    Still, we do have competing narratives with this man. And guess what? That’s life. Things are seldom neat and clean and easy. People are complicated and messy. Good and even great people have shortcomings. Rupp was no different.

    That’s what makes this such a vexing issue. We have a coach who integrated his high school team in the late ’20s, for God’s sake, who integrated the ’48 Olympic team and became Don Barksdale’s closest friend during the trip, and who was probably the most progressive basketball coach in all the South. At the same time, we know he used the n-word. What do we do with that? Is that enough to change the name?

    In this climate, which I broadly support, I really don’t know. I don’t know how far is too far. We’re not living in a time of nuance. And it worries me that the harsh judgments of today’s sensitivities will leave us no one to honor.

    • DerBaron
      12:21 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

      From all that I’ve read Lancaster and Frank Deford are the only ones who accused Rupp of using this slur. Deford claimed he heard Rupp use it in the locker room at the Texas Western game. Joe B vehemently refutes this and goes further to say Deford was never in the locker room. I asked Tommy Kron about this and he said he didn’t hear Rupp say it and didn’t remember Deford being there either. I believe the bitterness between Lancaster and Rupp may have behind Lancaster’s last shot at Rupp? We’ll never know because both are gone. Regardless, there are many anecdotal evidence that Rupp wasn’t a racist but in todays climate people can be destroyed by one slip.

  11. light my fire
    1:15 pm August 8, 2020 Permalink

    If they base it on if Rupp ever said the NWord, then show actual proof, not he said she said crap.

    Also if the N word is so bad then please blm tell your own race to stop using it.