Kentucky legend CM Newton dies at 88

Erika Bonner

Former Kentucky student-athlete and director of athletics CM Newton passed away Monday in Tuscaloosa. Newton was 88 years old.

Newton began his collegiate career at UK, where he played forward for the basketball team and was also a pitcher for the baseball team from 1948-1951. His talent landed him a letterman on Coach Adolph Rupp’s 1951 championship team. Newton eventually would go on to pitch for the minor leagues of the New York Yankees, but retired after the birth of his two daughters.

UK basketball coach John Calipari had a few words upon the death of Newton.

“Please keep him (Newton) and his family in your prayers. During one of the most trying times of our athletic department, he came to the rescue and put us on the path we are today. May you rest in peace, my friend,” said Calipari on Twitter Monday.

After holding various coaching positions at Transylvania, Alabama and Vanderbilt, where he recruited the two first black basketball players at Transy and Bama, he returned to UK in what Calipari called a “trying time.” Kentucky basketball was under fire for violating NCAA rules, which forced the resignation of the basketball coaches and athletic director, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Newton took over as athletic director and began the turnaround of UK athletics. During his time leading Kentucky sports, he hired Rick Pitino as the men’s basketball coach, and hired the first black men’s and women’s basketball coaches before he retired in 2000.

Click here for Newton’s full obituary.