“The Baron and the Bear answers the question, ‘What was Adolph Rupp really like?’ It captures Rupp and Rupp’s Runts as never before. It also demolishes the contention that Rupp was a racist. It’s about time."—Coach Joe B. Hall, Rupp’s assistant and successor at the University of Kentucky Wildcats, winner of the NCAA basketball championship in 1978.
“My grandmother used to say, if you want to change the world, wait for a door to open a crack and then kick it down. The Baron and the Bear challenges conventional wisdom about coaches Adolph Rupp and Don Haskins and gives a good strong kick to a door that needed kicking.”
—Nolan Richardson, Hall of Fame basketball coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks, winner of the NCAA championship in 1994
“As David Kingsley Snell makes clear, Texas Western’s historic win over Kentucky was both polarizing and transforming. It forced people to confront their stereotypes and biases, accelerating the momentum of the civil rights movement.”—Peter Dreier, professor of political science at Occidental College and author of The One Hundred Greatest Americans of the Twentieth Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame
"The Emancipation Proclamation
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President Obama’s Tribute to the
Texas Western Miners:
50 years ago, long before the Hollywood movie or Hall of Fame inductions, a group of basketball players in El Paso – black, white, Hispanic – just wanted to win some games. They did a lot of that, because, in basketball, it doesn’t matter what you look like, just that you can play. Now, the path to success wasn’t usually so clear in America of the 1960s. So by becoming the first team to win an NCAA title with five black starters, the Miners weren’t just champs on the court: They helped change the rules of the game off it. They didn’t know it at the time, but their contribution to Civil Rights was as important as any other.Our progress demands not only Dr. King, but Jackie Robinsons. Not only Rosa Parks, but Aretha Franklins. Not only household names, but ordinary Americans doing their part in their own lives with their own examples. That’s what we honor today – a group of Americans who laced up their shoes and moved our country forward.
A new rap video, based on the book – The Baron and the Bear (University of Nebraska Press, 1916) – celebrates the Texas Western College (now UTEP) 1966 win over the University of Kentucky team known as Rupp’s Runts.
The game is historic because all-white Kentucky, under legendary coach Adolph Rupp, was beaten by a Texas Western team (coached by Don Haskins) that played only its seven best players on that night, all of whom happened to be black.
The game changed college basketball virtually overnight, opening the way for black players in what had been a segregated sport in the south with only limited opportunities for players on northern campuses.
The rap, based on a poem written by 82-year-old author David Kingsley Snell, was turned into a rap by 27-year-old UTEP senior Jean-Andre Moore.
Moore, a wide-receiver on the UTEP football team as well as talented actor and musician, gave the poem its beat and surrounded Snell’s refrain -- They were something to see with “Big Daddy” D / With Harry, the Willies and “O” / There was young Nevil Shed on a team that was led / By a point guard they called Bobby Joe – with a rap beat and the words “Sixty-six, Sixty-six, they were the team of sixty-six.”
Moore, who had never performed a rap before, gave a professional performance in a video that was shot at various locations around El Paso by Moore’s girlfriend, UTEP student Aleida Goygia, using her I-phone. The project was edited into its final form in the Atlanta studios of the Omega Media Group.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Baron and the Bear: Rupp’s Runts, Haskins Miners and the Season That Changed Basketball Forever.
By David Kingsley Snell
The Baron and the Bear is first and foremost a basketball book, a fun and funny deep dive into the personalities of two remarkable teams as they moved through a college basketball season toward the NCAA championship game. It is also the story of a milestone in the civil rights movement. In the 1966 NCAA championship game an all-white University of Kentucky team was beaten by a team from Texas Western College (now UTEP) that played only African Americans. The game helped to destroy negative stereotypes about the black athlete and opened the door to their participation in previously segregated southern colleges.
This is also the story of two remarkably similar, yet very different, Coaches; Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (The Baron of the Bluegrass) and Texas Western’s Don Haskins (The Bear to his players and fans in El Paso). While both coaches emphasized conditioning and conducted practices using mind-numbing repetition, Rupp’s stress was on offense, Haskins’s on defense. While both had an aversion to the distraction of girlfriends, Haskins had no problem with married players. And, while Rupp was aloof from the recruiting process, losing talented black players because of his perceived indifference, Haskins was selling his program to black players and, importantly, their parents.
Since both teams had mediocre win/loss records the year before (15-10 for Kentucky, 16-9 for Texas Western) there was little reason to predict their success in the 1965-’66 season. But both seemed to catch lightening in a bottle, remaining unbeaten before losing on the same Saturday near the end of the regular season.
The Disney movie Glory Road gave a fictionalized version of the story complete with the strong hint that Kentucky’s legendary coach was a racist and Haskins a veritable saint. The reality of that season is far more gripping and the truth about Rupp and Haskins more nuanced than has ever been told. Although the participants to a man paid no attention to race, the championship game, rebroadcast on ESPN fifty years later, came to be regarded as the emancipation proclamation of college basketball.