By LARRY VAUGHT
It was no surprise that hundreds showed up for a memorial service in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Thursday for former UK athletics director C.M. Newton, who was also head coach at Alabama and Vanderbilt as well as a leader in numerous national organizations.
Newton died June 4 at age 88. He was beloved and admired by many.
Among the college basketball coaches attending the service were John Calipari of Kentucky, Tubby Smith of High Point and Avery Johnson of Alabama along with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. Current Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan, a former coach at Florida, was also there.
Newton hired Smith at Kentucky after Rick Pitino left UK for the Boston Celtics and Donovan was on Pitino’s staff at UK when Newton was athletics director.
But where was Pitino? Newton brought him to Kentucky from the New York Knicks after Eddie Sutton got the UK program on NCAA probation. But the Knicks were struggling under Pitino and it gave him a chance to resurrect his career.
Maybe he had a good reason for not being there — and we all know Pitino certainly has had a lot of issues lately. But it just seems a bit strange to me that Pitino would not have been there to play his final respects to a man who did so much for his career.