Former Kentucky Wildcats athletic director C.M. Newton died Monday, the school announced.
Newton was a member of the Kentucky basketball team in college and played on the national championship-winning squad of 1951. He also served as the Alabama Crimson Tide's head coach for 12 seasons before moving on to the Vanderbilt Commodores for eight years.
Many eulogized Newton on social media:
John Calipari @UKCoachCalipari
An hour or so ago, C.M. Newton passed away. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. During one of the most trying times of our athletic department, he came to the rescue and put us on the path we are today. May you rest in peace, my friend. https://t.co/InGk58yQzB
The 88-year-old is most famously remembered as Kentucky's AD, a role he began in 1989.
Kentucky's return to prominence as a college basketball powerhouse is attributable in large part to Newton, as he hired Rick Pitino in 1989. During Pitino's eight seasons, the Wildcats reached the Final Four on three occasions and were national champions in 1996. Newton also hired Pitino's successor, Tubby Smith, who guided UK to another title in 1998.
Newton also helped reinvigorate the football program, with Kentucky earning bowl bids in 1993, 1998 and 1999. The football stadium bears his name, as the university christened the field itself C.M. Newton Grounds.
Newton's impact wasn't limited to the University of Kentucky.
He was chairman of the NCAA's rules committee in college basketball from 1979 to 1985 and served as president of USA Basketball between 1992 and 1996. During that time, professional players started competing in the Summer Olympics, and the original 1992 Dream Team was born.