BB Newsletter April
Kentucky Racism-Part 1
Snyder is further polishing his developing tradition at Missouri of recruiting
KU rejects and criminals. Of
course, we all know about the Rush brothers, Jaron and Kareem, who KU passed on
after it was determined that they took money under the table from agent Myron
Piggie, who ran the Kansas City summer leagues.
Quin didn’t have any problem two years ago, though, taking Kareem, who
has since left MU after his sophomore year…….to go for the NBA MONEY.
last year it was Travon Bryant, who Roy Williams stopped recruiting after Travon
couldn’t pass his ACT. No sweat
said Quin, who stashed Bryant at Maine Central Institute, a prep school that got
him through the ACT test, so that he could join the Tigers second semester.
Don’t put alot of money on Bryant graduating.
this year it’s Robert Whatley, a 6’9 center from Benton Harbor, MI., who has
been offered a scholarship by Snyder. No
problem for Quin that Whatley has been charged with having non-consensual sex
with a 13-year-old girl. His trial
is set for the summer and, according to the Detroit Free Press, he was required
to miss several games this past season due to a violation of the school’s
athletic honor code. Sounds like
he’ll fit in Columbia...... if he doesn’t land in jail first.
the Jayhawks did very well this past fall, they still need a center, but the
pickins are slim indeed. Apparently
there is no one to be found in the Juco ranks.
The recently released Juco All-American list doesn’t show anyone over
6’7 among the top 20 players.
few high school seniors are left, but about the only one who seemingly fits the
KU profile is Emeka Okafor, a 6’9, 245 lb. post from Bellaire, TX.
He has recently taken a visit to Arkansas, and has looked at Connecticut,
North Carolina State and Ohio State. Rumor
had it that his high school coach is a Bobby Knight fan and was steering him to
Texas Tech. However, I just read that Okafor has passed on Knight.
That alone should assure us that he’s smart enough academically.
But, that same report suggested that KU had cooled on Okafor. If so,
don’t look for KU to have a true center on board next year.
well, KU did all right this year without a center. They’ll do OK next year too, but just think how much better
Gooden and Collison would be if they had a stud in the post.
Here’s the third part of my series
on the Dark Side of Kentucky Basketball:
Adolph Rupp was a bigot who barred the door to blacks at Kentucky and throughout
the SEC for many years. A Bull
Conner look-alike and a George Wallace act-alike, he flaunted his racism and
negatively influenced the racial nature of college basketball from the 1930’s
and into the 60’s.
are four quotes (among hundreds) which illustrate his virulent racism.
"He said, ‘You've got to beat those coons,’
He turned to (center)Thad Jaracz. 'You go after that big coon.' . . . He talked
that way all the time. . . A chill went through me. I was standing in the back
of the room, and I looked around at the players. They all kind of ducked their
heads. They were embarrassed. This was clearly the type of thing that went over
the line." Frank Deford,
Sports Illustrated, reporting on Coach Adolph Rupp’s halftime
exhortations in the UK Wildcat’s locker room.
"Harry, that son of a bitch
is ordering me to get some niggers in here. What am I going to do ? He's the
boss." Harry Lancaster,
long-time assistant to Rupp, in his book Adolph Rupp As I Knew Him
(Lexington Productions, 1979), quoting Rupp on Dr. John Oswald, UK President.
“Once, I was on a flight with Rupp and sat with him
in the first-class section. He had about six Kentucky bourbons in less than an
hour and was about halfway to the wind. I told him that I was an attorney who
represented some basketball players. Now, I had never met the man, and the first
significant thing he said to me was, ‘The trouble with the ABA is that there
are too many nigger boys in it now.’ I
sat there just stunned. That just killed my image of Adolph Rupp the great
coach. Maybe it was because he had too much to drink, but even so...” - Loose
Balls by Terry Pluto, Simon & Schuster, 1990, pg. 241.
"Rupp liked to say he had tried to recruit Wilt
Chamberlain in the mid-1950s, when the 7-foot Philadelphia phenom was the talk
of basketball. 'But could I take him to Atlanta, New Orleans, or Starkville ?'
Rupp asked rhetorically.” And
the Walls Came Tumbling Down (1999, Simon & Schuster) by journalist
Frank Fitzpatrick, a long-time staffer at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
the mid-1960’s, racial barriers had been torn down for the most part, in other
areas of the country, and in most other sports. "In the spring of 1966, Bill Russell and Wilt
Chamberlain were dominating the National Basketball Association; Hank Aaron,
Willie Mays and Frank Robinson were among Major League Baseball's brightest
stars; Gale Sayers was preparing to replace Jim Brown as the National Football
League's leading rusher; and Muhammad Ali was the world heavyweight boxing
champion. In college basketball, every NCAA champion since 1961 had been built
around black stars. Loyola of Chicago, the 1963 champion, had four black
Not so in Kentucky.
Rupp took his all-white team to the 1966 NCAA championship game where
they faced the all-black Texas Western team coached by Don Haskins. “Rupp’s
Runts”, featuring Pat Riley (now coach of the Miami Heat), Louie Dampier and
Larry Conley, were ranked number 1. Adolph had publicly declared that he would
never let a black wear the Kentucky blue and he was primed to set things right.
As fate would have it though, no-name Texas Western (now the University
of Texas, El Paso), with an upstart squad of inner-city blacks led by 5’9
sparkplug Bobby Joe Hill and 245 lb.center David “Big Daddy” Lattin, whipped
the big-name monarch of southern basketball and his all-pale squad.
The final score of 72-65 hardly reflected the Miner’s superiority.
"So visible was The Baron, and so racist were his views, that he was the
predominant reason why Texas Western's victory is remembered a watershed moment
in sports history."
“Kentucky’s appearance in the final turned out to be Rupp’s last shot at the championship; he retired six years later without ever again taking a Wildcat team past the second round. It was also the last time a segregated southern school mounted a serious challenge for the NCAA title. Within the next few years, “white” colleges throughout the south began to actively recruit black players” 3
Preceding the 1970 season, Rupp finally gave in to pressure by UK President Oswald and alumni to bring the program back to a competitive level, and signed Tom Payne, a 7’ center from Louisville. Payne was the one and only black he ever recruited in his 42 years as coach of the Wildcats. Payne stayed one year.
"And even with his four national championships Rupp
will always be viewed in the mirror of the Texas Western game, where he was on
the wrong side of history. Rupp never recovered from that. And for many black
Americans, neither did Kentucky."
Isn’t it poetic that Rupp is recalled as a villain in a
sport now dominated by a race he excluded?
It’s also ironic that Rupp’s ultimate legacy was that the 1966 game
did more than anything else to integrate the sport. "You guys got a lot of black kids scholarships around
this country," Miners coach Don Haskins said in an emotional address at the
[25th Anniversary] reunion. "You can be proud of that. I guess you helped
change the world a little bit."
“For 42 years it was his way of dealing with defeat. Acerbic, arrogant, defiant, Adolph Rupp won 875 games and lost none. It was his players who lost those 190.” 6
1 "Dribbling on Rupp's
grave. Author shoots an Airball with Bogus Analysis of Famous UK Game," by
Billy Reed, Lexington Herald Leader, February 28, 1999.
Bergen Record, by Dave D'Alessandro, March 3,1996.
The Encyclopedia of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, page 266, by Jim
“To Tubby: May the Best Man Win,” by Tony Kornheiser, Washington
Post, My 15, 1997.
5 By Jack Wilkinson, Atlanta Journal and Constitution,
April 1, 1991.
6 Calling Rupp a Racist Just Doesn’t Ring True, by David Kindred, Lexington Herald Leader, December 22, 1991.