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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kentucky to play UTEP in 2016 to celebrate 50th anniversary of historic NCAA title game

Kentucky will play UTEP in 2016, possibly on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1966 national championship game, according to a report from Darren Hunt of ABC-7 in El Paso. On March 19, 1966, Texas Western (now UTEP) beat the Wildcats in what is widely considered one of the most important racial landmarks in American sports history.


According to Hunt, Kentucky coach John Calipari and UTEP coach Tim Floyd are still ironing out some of the details, but they may play the game in Maryland—the game in 1966 was held at the legendary Cole Field House in College Park, Md.—and it may also be played on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


The Maryland Terrapins no longer use Cole Field House, having moved into the Comcast Center in 2002. But Cole Field House is still used for campus activities, and the Terrapins used it for the first time since moving to Comcast when it held its Maryland Madness event Friday. The event was a success, according to Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun, and such a success could validate future games being played there on occasion.


Kentucky spokesperson John Hayden could not confirm the report. Attempts to contact a UTEP spokesperson were not immediately returned.


The original game was a landmark in American sports. Texas Western started five black players (it was the first time that had happened in an NCAA national championship game), and Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky team started five white players. Texas Western won the game 72-65. The story of the game was made into the 2006 film Glory Road.