UK Historian Contributes to Discussion of Historic Basketball Championship

By Gail Hairston

(Feb. 26, 2016) – University of Kentucky history Professor Gerald Smith will take part in panel discussions associated with a CBS Sports Network’s special about the 1966 Texas Western University versus University of Kentucky national basketball championship game. The television special, “Championship of Change,” will explore the impact the game had on the sports and cultural landscape of America.

The one-hour special airs at noon Sunday, Feb. 28, on CBS. The special will be aired again Feb. 29 at 8:30 p.m.; March 1 at 10 a.m.; March 6 at 2 a.m.; March 8 at 7 p.m.; and March 9 at 11 p.m.

Against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in 1966, and for the first time in NCAA Championship history, an all-black starting lineup took the floor for Texas Western and defeated top-ranked and all-white Kentucky on March 19, 1966.

In a unique panel discussion, moderated by journalist Jack Ford, members of the 1966 team, journalists, historians (including Smith) and other special guests, provide accounts of basketball life in the segregated south, the challenges and triumphs of the 1966 Miners team and the way the game has resonated with fans throughout the years. The program also includes interviews with former Kentucky players Pat Riley and Larry Conley.

"As a historian,” said Smith, “I found it extremely rewarding to serve on a panel with the Texas Western players and listen as they shared their side of the story." While in El Paso, Smith interviewed six of the Texas Western players, along with former Arkansas head coach, Nolan Richardson. He has donated those taped interviews to the UK Nunn Oral History Center.

The 1966 national championship game remains one of the most famous in sports history.

To view a clip from the documentary, visit http://cbsprt.co/1KIfsvB. To view a clip from the 1966 game, visit https://youtu.be/V6-QpNV_lww

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