Lots was written this week about the passing C.M. Newton, former UK basketball player, SEC Coach and Athletic Director at his alma mater who turned around a basketball program.
It was all good and those who knew anything of C.M. Newton would only have good things to say. Many wrote about his personality, warmth and being a genuine man.
Alan Gibson was able to write from a little different perspective.
You’d have to know Alan to appreciate one of his remembrances, or as he says his most memorable interaction.
C.M. was responsible for getting Rick Pitino to come down from the northeast to take over the UK basketball program. Few thought C.M. could pull it off but he kept on Pitino until the coach finally agreed to move to Lexington. After successfully turning around that program, winning an NCAA title and coming within seconds of a second straight title in 1997, the pros came calling and Pitino couldn’t resist the urge to move to that big-time stage.
Left with a void to fill, C.M. received a copy of Alan’s “Turnovers” column in the Clinton County News.
Alan used his column to submit his application to succeed Pitino as head coach at the University of Kentucky. Some might think it was just a joke but knowing Alan, I’m sure there was some seriousness behind the application.
A letter he received soon thereafter is one of his most treasured possessions. It’s a letter from C.M., thanking Alan for his interest in applying but telling him that Tubby Smith is more suitable to be the next head basketball coach at UK. “However, we will keep your letter on file,” C.M. quipped.
You have to remember in his first season at UK’s helm, Tubby won a national championship. Some would probably say that with the talent Pitino left at UK, even Alan Gibson could have won the NCAA in 1998.
Here’s Alan’s column tribute this week to C.M. Newton.