UK fan does not remember Adolph Rupp as racist from his encounters with him over 50 years ago

Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp with, from left, Mike Casey, Dan Issel and Mike Pratt. (UK Athletics Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

There was an interesting submission from Joseph Burgess, a 1964 University of Kentucky graduate and UK basketball fan, about his memories of basketball coach Adolph Rupp in Monday’s Lexington Herald-Leader.

Seems Burgess once accidentally sat at the table where Rupp and assistant coach Harry Lancaster usually ate. However, when he realized his mistake they invited him to stay and he ended up at their table several times, including once when DePaul coach Ray Meyer also joined them.

Many have accused Rupp of being a racist for waiting so long to recruit African-American players. Burgess disagrees and wrote his op-ed piece in response to a Herald-Leader columnist calling for Rupp Arena to be renamed because of Rupp’s racism.

Here’s part of what Burgess wrote:

“I recall that he (Rupp) asked Meyer how he might best approach Black prospects, since Meyer’s teams had Black players. I don’t remember Meyer’s answer but do recall Rupp’s continuing to bring up the problem that the deep- South attitudes toward segregation presented in his being able with good conscience to recruit Black players.

“The tough old UK head coach seems to me not to have been the racist that some sports-news media later painted him to be and that other scribes seem inclined to continue. ….

“Maybe you had to have been having chili, milk, and chocolate pie for lunch with Coach Rupp on a day almost 60 years ago to have something of a different point of view and to suggest that Rupp Arena’s name is not inap- propriate. And there’s always the fact that he’s simply not around to explain the situation that conflicted him, as he did to the now also-late Ray Meyer.”

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See Monday’s Herald-Leader for Burgess’ full letter.

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