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Lancaster became UK athletics director in late '60s
Won power struggle with Charlie Bradshaw
The main players in a power struggle for control of the University of Kentucky athletics department after the death of Bernie Shively in December 1967 were UK president Dr. John W. Oswald and his vice president for
Cats' Pause Columnist
student affairs Robert L. Johnson; aging but still influential basketball coach Adolph Rupp and his long-time assistant Harry Lancaster; and football coach Charlie Bradshaw and his chief allv. the Lexington Quarterback Club.
Wildcat football fans had welcomed Oswald with open amis after he resigned as vice president of administration. University of California at Berkeley, to succeed Dr. frank 0. Dickey as president of UK at the beginning of the 1963-64 school year.
Honored by Spans Illustrated as a member of it Silver Anniversary team. Oswald had played guard in football and was team captain his senior year at DePauw University, where he also threw the discus and tried basketball. Contacted al his home in Berkeley immediately after accepting the UK job, he admitted to an interest in athletics but emphasized that the athletics program should be kept in its proper place in the overall plans of the university.
Dr. Dickey, former dean of the UK College of Education, had succeeded the venable Dr. Herman Lee Donovan in 1956. when the athletics program was showing signs of decay after enjoying what was termed the "Golden Era" of UK sports.
I Iff DI (I INE OF THAT ERA began in October 1951. when three members of the 1947-48 NCAA and corld championship Fabulous Five team were implicated in a nationwide points-shaving scandal. By the time the smoke cleared, two other former Wildcats had admitted guilt while an All-American center lost his senior year of eligibility although a New York jury failed to convict him of any wrongdoing.
During their trial, the former Wildcat players testified to various violations of rules by the university. Their testimony included accusations that football player Gene Donaldson had been employed by a local architech in violation of NCAA rules while Chet Lukawski. another football player, was given $100 to purchase clothes, and that both football and basketball players violated rules by accepting gift certificates and bonuses from local merchants.
The Executive Committee of the Southeastern Conference in August 1952 ruled the Wildcats out of conference basketball for one year for participating in intercollegiate basketball and in tournaments in violation of conference rules and regulations in the area of subsidizing players during the period between Oct. 1. 1946, and the close of the 1951 basketball season.
Three months later, the NCAA asked its member schools not to play UK in basketball during the 1952-53 season. During that period. Donaldson, a bona fide All-American candidate at guard, and Lukawski were declared ineligible for football competiton.'
Paul "Bear" Bryant, the most successful football coach in UK history (60-23-5 in eight seasons), was extremely unhappy about the basketball scandals, which were-keep-ing many athletes from attending UK, and he felt that the university was governed by basketball at the expense of football.
"We were too much alike," he said later of his relationship with Rupp. "and he wanted basketball No. 1
Long-time UK assistant coach Harry Lancaster, seated on the Wildcat bench between Adolph Rupp and Joe B. Hall, took over the post of athletics director from Robert L. Johnson, who held the job on an interim basis following the death of Bernie Shively in 1967. To Hall's right is UK statistician Ken Kuhn.
and I wanted football No. 1. In an environment like that one or the other has to go."
DONOVAN REPORTEDLY HAD IGNORED a suggestion that UK's punishment could be lightened by the dismissal of Rupp. Bryant later said he had been assured that Rupp would be released by the university. Donovan's stand was that Rupp was an honorable man whose troubles stemmed from the fact that he was the best basketball coach in the country.
Bryant departed Lexington for Texas A&M in February 1954. leaving what he termed his best team to successor Blanton Collier, a scholarly native of Paris, who had coached successfully in high school and as an assistant to Paul Brown at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base.
Collier was named SEC Coach of the Year after leading the 1954 Wildcats to a 7-3 record: however, the losses mounted as the Bryant-recruited material petered out, and the Gentle Gentleman left UK in 1961 with an eight-year record of 41-36-3.
As the Quarterback Club and other football boosters blamed the UK administration for a floundering program. Rupp's 1954 basketball team was undefeated, but turned down a bid to the NCAA tournament because its three top players—Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey and Lou Tsioropoulos—were ruled out because they were classified as graduate students.
Although upsets came more frequently, the Wildcats continued their winning basketball ways, annexing a fourth NCAA title with a 23-6 team in 1958. During the ensuing prc-Oswald years, they were 24-3, 18-7, 19-9, 23-3 and 16-9.
The university's big advantage over the years had been first choice of the many fine players from the high school ranks in the state, but that situation had changed since integration of the KHSAA in 1955. Skilled black players had made their presence felt immediately, but there was no place for them at UK. or in the SEC, which did not allow them to compete.
"ADOLPH HAD NEVER BEEN around blacks. Lancaster said years later. "I think he was worried about the unknown."
During Dickey's reign, the university, after querying other members of the SEC. adopted a policy that advocated active recruiting of black athletes, but no progress had been made in that area when Oswald became
the new president.
However, Oswald let it be known immediately that he agreed with the decision to integrate the university's athletic teams, emphasizing that he expected all coaches to recruit black players and that UK could lose a large amount of federal funds if its athletic teams were not integrated.
Two months before Oswald arrived in Lexington, the NCAA began an investigation of the off-season football training program conducted by Bradshaw and placed the football team on probation one year, beginning April 20. 1964. which meant that the university could not participate in a postseason bowl game that year.
Bradshaw's stock with Oswald took another dive when the gung-ho coach, smarting over a 21-7 loss to Georgia at Athens in the middle of the 1964 season, returned home to put the squad through a brutal scrimmage session behind closed doors. The school and local media criticized Bradshaw severely after four players received injuries serious enough to necessitate treatment at the clinic after the scrimmage.
Upon demanding an explanation. Oswald was assured by Shively. Bradshaw and a team doctor that the injuries were not unusual or unduly intense for such a practice. The big question, however, was why such a session was held in the first place.
THE WILDCATS HAD ONE OF THEIR better football teams the following year, winning six of eight games and looking forward to a bowl bid. but the season was down the drain after star quarterback Rick Norton received a knee injury during a loss to Houston in the Astrodome. They finished 6-1 after losing to Tennessee the following weekend.
Bradshaw was given a new contract of indeterminate length on Thanksgiving Day of that year, with the understanding that he was guaranteed a position in some other capacity at the university should he be relieved as football coach. Less than a month later, he broke the UK and SEC color barrier by signing Nat Northington of Louisville to a UK grant. Soon afterward, he singed a second black. Greg Page, of Middlesboro.
During Oswald's first year at UK, the basketball team finished the regular season. 21-4, winning UKIT. Sugar Bowl and SEC crowns, but the Wildcats were humiliated (Continued on page 24)