African-American and Africana Studies faculty at the University of Kentucky are calling on the school to rename Rupp Arena as part of a series of changes that would "demonstrate that Black lives truly do matter at the University of Kentucky."
In a letter to University president Eli Capilouto, the aforementioned program faculty wrote that, "The Adolph Rupp name has come to stand for racism and exclusion in UK athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees.
"The rebuilding of the arena and the convention center offer an opportunity to change the name to a far more inclusive one, such as Wildcat Arena. In addition, the University should survey all campus buildings and remove all names of enslavers, Confederate sympathizers (such as William C.P. Breckinridge), and other white supremacists."
Rupp did not coach a Black player at Kentucky until 1969. He was hired as the school's basketball coach in 1930.
In 1967, Perry Wallace debuted for Vanderbilt and became the first Black scholarship athlete to play for a men's basketball team in the SEC.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, this past January, UK and the Lexington Center Corporation announced naming rights to the convention center surrounding the arena had been sold to Central Bank. However, the name of the arena would not change.
"It has to be Rupp Arena," UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart said at the news conference announcing the naming of the Central Bank Center. "When you’re recruiting, when you’re having teams come in here to play and people come in here, this is Rupp Arena. It’s set apart from all other places. … This one’s been this way for almost 50 years, and it can’t change."
Thursday's faculty letter also called for a number of other changes on Kentucky's campus, including appointing more Black faculty and staff to leadership positions, increasing Black representation among faculty to reflects the Black population of Lexington and increasing the support for Black students.