In 1966, Texas Western (known today as UTEP) defeated Kentucky, 72-65, to win the national championship. The game’s importance centers around the Miners starting five black players — the first team to do so in a national title game — against Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky Wildcats.
Back in 2013, current coach Tim Floyd and John Calipari had begun discussing the possibility of an anniversary game to be played at the same venue, Cole Fieldhouse in College Park, Maryland. On Wednesday, a report surfaced from Beau Bagley of KTSM in El Paso, that the 50th anniversary game will not happen.
“Just backed out, said that there were a lot of people up there that didn’t want the game to be played, for whatever reason, so I don’t want to throw them completely under the bus, but that’s ok, we’ll just stay with a 1-0 record against the Kentucky Wildcats in college basketball,” Floyd told the station. “If they never want to play again and act like the game never happened, for the reasons why it occurred are significant, then we’ll never play again.”
Jonathan Lintner of the Courier-Journal reached out to the University of Kentucky for a comment. Team spokesperson Eric Lindsey refuted the idea that Kentucky “backed out” via email.
“We didn’t back out of anything because we never agreed to play the game. There were discussions about the possibility of playing, but they never materialized past that. It just didn’t work out. Next year our schedule is pretty set as far as games away from home.
“We’re still looking for a couple of games at home, but we didn’t have room in the schedule for what we had discussed earlier. We would be open to playing them in future seasons.”
The 1996 national championship game was depicted in the film, Glory Road, 40 years later. The coaches from the game — Adolph Rupp and Don Haskins — were both eventually enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.