Which Side Of The 1966 Texas Western-Kentucky Rematch Will The Media Focus On?

Posted by nvr1983 on October 24th, 2013

In the past few years, there has been a movement to use games to commemorate significant historic events. One example of this occurred last season when Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis arranged a game between Mississippi State and Loyola (IL) to honor the 1963 NCAA regional semifinal where the Bulldogs traveled beyond state lines in violation of a court order that forbade them from playing a team with African-Americans. While many such games remain in the memory of sports fans, few actually become landmark events that even a casual sports fan can identify. The 1966 National Championship game between Texas Western (now the University of Texas at El-Paso) and Kentucky is one such classic game. So when current UTEP coach Tim Floyd announced yesterday that the two schools hope to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original Brown vs. Board of Education game with a rematch, we were intrigued. The details are still in question, but it is believed that the game will take place in Maryland (the original game was played at Cole Field House in College Park) on Martin Luther King Day, in 2016.

Will The Focus Be On Texas Western Or The Rupp Narrative? (Credit: El Paso Times)

Will The Focus Be On Texas Western Or The Rupp Narrative? (Credit: El Paso Times)

For anyone unfamiliar with the story of this game (and didn’t see the 2006 movie chronicling the event, Glory Road), Texas Western, a relative upstart led by fiery young coach Don Haskins, started five African-American players in its lineup. Its opponent in the national championship game, Kentucky, was led by legendary four-time national champion head coach Adolph Rupp, who started five Caucasian players. Texas Western won the game, 72-65, and in so doing set in motion a slow but steady revolution involving race relations in the sport. Some 31 years later, the integration of the game had come so far that Kentucky hired an African-American, Tubby Smith, as its new head coach, and never thought twice about it. Smith, who won his own national title at Kentucky in 1998, is now in the same Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame as Rupp.

The reasons for why this game ultimately took on such significance are complex and numerous, but as anybody who has sat through a high school American history class is aware, the mid-1960s were the height of the activism and tensions of the civil rights era throughout much of the country. This was particularly so in relation to the integration of schools, for which athletics often served as public theater. Over time (and fairly or unfairly), two giants in college athletics — Kentucky’s Rupp and Alabama football head coach Bear Bryant — came to symbolize a tacit but legitimate resistance to athletic integration. Some of the criticism lobbed at both highly successful southern coaches was certainly earned, but to a large degree, it now serves as an easy literary crutch for journalists to discuss the era.

Still, should this event occur in three years, the 50th anniversary rematch between these two schools should serve as an interesting history lesson for those not familiar with the story behind it. We just hope that the lesson that they will take from what would no doubt be a nationally-televised blockbuster game will be a  positive one of inclusiveness and integration, one derived from the spirit of the Texas Western squad and the pioneers who paved the way for them rather than another negative historical narrative built around the misgivings of Rupp.

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Gary Williams Hates Graduation

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2007

Yesterday the NCAA released its latest graduation rate figures for all D1 athletes who entered school in the classes of 1997-2000. Unlike the federally-mandated graduation rate, the GSR (Graduate Success Rate) is more realistic for athletes – it gives each player six years to complete his degree and it does not count transfer students against a school (reflecting the reality of athlete puddle-jumping for playing time in D1).

Here are the NCAA’s key findings:

The latest GSR figures show that 77 percent of student-athletes who began college from 1997-2000 graduated within six years. That four-year graduation rate is unchanged from last year’s data and up from 76 percent two years ago.

The Graduation Success Rate for men’s basketball rose from 55.8 percent in 1995 to 63.6 percent in 2000, a 7.8 percent increase. Football increased from 63.1 percent to 66.6 percent for teams competing in the Bowl Subdivision and from 62 percent to 64.7 percent for teams competing in the Championship Subdivision. Baseball increased from 65.3 percent to 67.3 percent.

Gary Williams chicken wing

Gary is Too Busy to Worry About Graduation Rates

Since the NCAA doesn’t provide a sortable database of team information (or at least we can’t find it), we decided to quickly throw together some tables showing how the BCS schools performed in this cohort. Gary Williams should be especially proud of himself. Seriously, Gary, the best you can do with those Juan Dixon/Lonny Baxter teams is zero?!? Not even ONE player???

Big 10 + ACC GSRs 07

Big East + SEC GSRs 07

Big 12 + Pac-10 GSRs 07

Thoughts.

  • At the high end, Florida St. at 100% makes us wonder if any of these stats are credible. Then again, Florida is also at 100%, and these numbers are around 2000, so maybe there was a hanging chad issue or something. We’re also amazed that Eddie Sutton’s band of merry criminals men led the Big 12.
  • At the low end, Jim Calhoun at UConn, Lute Olson at Arizona, Tim Floyd/Larry Eustachy at Iowa St., Ron Jirsa/Jim Harrick at Georgia, and the seediest of all, Clem Haskins at Minnesota, join Gary Williams in the dregs of their respective conferences. What a list of slimy characters there.
  • The Pac-10 is surprisingly low, given that Stanford, Cal, UCLA and USC are all great schools. Especially Stanford – how can Mike Montgomery justify graduating only 2/3 of his players? Guess he doesn’t have to at this point – or does he? And the SEC is surprisingly high, with Alabama, the Mississippi schools and South Carolina doing well.

We may have more thoughts on this later, but we’re heading for the airport at the moment, so it’ll have to wait.

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