A group of faculty at the University of Kentucky are advocating for changing the name of Rupp Arena.
Faculty of the African American and Africana Studies program released a letter today with a number of recommendations and calls for change on campus. One of the requests to improve race relations was to rename Rupp Arena.
” The Adolph Rupp name has come to stand for racism and exclusion in UK athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees,” reads the letter, which was addressed to university president Eli Capilouto. “The rebuilding of the arena and the convention center offer an opportunity to change the name to a far more inclusive one, such as Wildcat Arena. In addition, the University should survey all campus buildings and remove all names of enslavers, Confederate sympathizers (such as William C.P. Breckinridge), and other white supremacists.”
Rupp, the legendary Kentucky coach for whom the building is named, had a checkered past regarding recruiting Black athletes. He didn’t sign a black player until 1969 and is famous for starting an all-white starting five against an all-Black five from Texas Western in the 1966 NCAA Championship Game.
— Paul Miles (@PaulMiles840) July 23, 2020
Expect the debate on this issue to get quite heated, on both sides.
As for Rupp, while he has a reputation as a racist, there have been recent arguments, like the one posed by Dick Gabriel of the Northern Kentucky Tribune, that the stigma was overblown and unwarranted.
Gabriel, who wrote, produced and directed the 2005 documentary Adolph Rupp: Myth, Legend and Fact, points to the fact that Rupp coached a Black player at the high school level before arriving at Kentucky and announced that UK would begin recruiting Black athletes before the SEC began integrating its teams. Gabriel also says Rupp recruited Black stars like Butch Beard and Wes Unseld in the 1960s before the duo eventually signed with Louisville.
What do you think should be done with the Rupp Arena name?