LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Friends, fans and former co-workers of one-time UK athlete and athletic director C.M. Newton continue to mourn his dead.
During his life, C.M. Newton wasn’t the biggest fan of praise, but those who knew him best beg to differ.
“Because he had all the attributes. He was a successful coach, he was a successful mentor. He was an influencer in the game but he also was a most courageous individual,” said Brooks Downing who worked with Newton when he was AD at UK.
Among his many accomplishments, Newton was best known for playing on UK’s 1951 national championship team, going on to coach at Transy, Alabama and Vanderbilt, all before making the huge decision to come back to UK as the new athletics director in 1989.
“You’re going to give up a very successful drive as a head coach at Vanderbilt to come back as AD at Kentucky, taking a pay cut mind you to take over a program that was the laughing stock of all of college sports,” said Downing.
A laughing stock because of a recent scandal that led to the firing of the previous AD and coach Eddie Sutton.
Many think the decision to bring in Newton was a turning point in UK basketball history, making the program into what it is today.
“If it hadn’t been for C.M. And bringing Pitino in here we wouldn’t have had no basketball program,” said Luther Deaton, a longtime friend of Newton’s.
Even so, Newton always stayed humble, calling it luck more than success.