50 Years Later, ESPN to Air Texas Western’s Victory over Kentucky

Wednesday night ESPN will air original footage of what may have been the most important game in the history of college basketball.  Although some controversy has arisen about whether ESPN is showing the actual TV footage or re-editing coaches’ film, that pales in comparison to the controversy at the time.   The championship game at Maryland’s Cole Field House between Texas Western (now UTEP) and Kentucky featured an all black line-up against the all white Kentucky team coached by virulent racist Adolph Rupp.  Rupp refused to recruit black players and gloried in his white supremacist rhetoric.  Don Haskins, the TW coach, had no such prejudices.  In fact, after hearing Rupp’s comments, Haskins was determined to play an all black line-up the entire game.  None of the 5 white players on the TW squad saw any minutes on the court in the championship game – the first time that had happened all season.  The game forever exploded the sick myth that black players could not win without the guidance of white players on the floor.  Rupp complained for years that the championship was stolen from him.

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