Should Adolph Rupp have been faster to integrate the Kentucky basketball program?
To hear Rupp tell it, his delay in signing a Black player until 1969, six years after the university’s athletic teams were officially desegregated, was due to circumstances beyond his control.
“We had a very, very difficult time in doing so, because as you can see a conference that had not allowed Negroes or Blacks to participate up until this time, no one wanted to be the first to break with that tradition,” Rupp said in a 1971 interview. "I never felt at all that Negroes should be barred.”
The Rupp comments come from a series of interviews housed in the UK library system’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. The dozens of hours of interviews conducted by longtime UK sports information director Russell Rice sound more like Rupp reading his personal memoirs than a question-and-answer session about his tenure as one of college basketball’s most legendary coaches, but he does not shy away from some of the more controversial moments in his career.