Kentucky African-American, Africana Studies Faculty Want Rupp Arena Name Change

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2020

Memebers of Kentucky's previous national championship teams re-raise the banners during Kentucky's NCAA college basketball Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
James Crisp/Associated Press

The faculty of the African American and Africana Studies program at the University of Kentucky has requested that the school rename Rupp Arena, its basketball facility. 

In a letter to school president Eli Capilouto, the faculty wrote the following:

"The University should 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. 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 served as Kentucky's basketball coach from the 1930-31 to 1971-72 seasons, and he won 876 games (seventh-most all-time) and led the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament 20 times, including four national championships. 

But according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach, Rupp didn't sign his first Black player, Tom Payne, until 1969. His detractors have also claimed that he was a racist, pointing to evidence like a newspaper clipping in which he used the N-word. 

The Rupp Arena at the Central Bank Center is in the process of a $275 million renovation project that is set to be completed before the 2021-22 season.

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