During the 42 years he coached at the University of Kentucky, Adolph Rupp (1901-1977) raised basketball to near-religious status in the Commonwealth. Basketball took its place next to horses, coal and bourbon as one of the cultural icons that characterizes the state. Rupp’s teams won 880 games, four national championships and one Olympic gold medal. There was a flip-side to all this success – the Kentucky team was suspended for the 1952-53 season after a point-shaving scandal, and Rupp was heavily criticized for taking so long to integrate his program.
Adolph Rupp grew up in Kansas, the son of immigrant farmers. He played three years of varsity basketball at the University of Kansas, but never scored a point. He began his coaching career in Kansas, but soon moved on to Iowa and then Illinois. The University of Kentucky hired him in 1930. Rupp’s genius for public relations and his team’s winning ways combined to make Kentucky basketball a statewide phenomenon, a point of pride around which Kentuckians of all stripes still rally.
About the presenter
Edward B. Smith portrays Adolph Rupp for Kentucky Chautauqua. A Kentucky native, Smith earned a bachelor of arts degree from Georgetown College, a master of arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, all in performance studies. Smith is co-director of the Kentucky Educational Speech and Drama Association and a member of the Kentucky Film Lab’s Advisory Board. He teaches theatre and film classes at Georgetown College, where he is an associate professor. In addition to his work adapting Kentucky literature for the stage, Smith is an award-winning filmmaker. He also portrays Justice John Marshall Harlan for Kentucky Chautauqua. He lives in Cynthiana with his wife Betsy and his three sons, Ethan, Harry, and Ross. Betsy, Ethan, and Harry are also Kentucky Chautauqua performers.
About Kentucky Chautauqua
Kentucky Chautauqua is an exclusive presentation of the Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc. with support from: Scripps Howard Foundation, Lindsey Wilson College, the Cralle Foundation, The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, People’s Bank & Trust Company of Hazard, the Brown-Forman Corporation, Union College, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, PNC Bank in Lexington, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, Inc.
The Kentucky Humanities Council is a non-profit Kentucky corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is not a state agency, but is a proud partner of Kentucky’s Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet. For information about Kentucky Humanities Council, visit www.kyhumanities.org or call 859-257-5932.
Questions about this program may be directed to the library at 606-365-7513.