The faculty of University of Kentucky’s African American & Africana Studies has written an open letter to school president Eli Capilouto asking, amongst other things, for the basketball arena to be re-named after someone other than Adolph Rupp, who has a complicated legacy with regards to race and integration.
“The Adolph Rupp name has come to stand for racism and exclusion in UK athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees,” reads a portion of the letter. “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.”
It was a matter of when and not if this debate was going to come to the forefront. Equally inevitable is that it will be very emotional, divisive, and at times ugly and nasty.
Matt Jones, the founder of Kentucky Sports Radio, believes it will ultimately come down to John Calipari:
The Rupp Arena debate was inevitable
The only question will be how much traction it gets and pressure Calipari has to respond
The reality is (at least in my view) that Calipari’s position will end up being the final result. If he wants it changed, it will be and vice versa
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) July 23, 2020
The fact that Kentucky is renovating the arena and combining it with a convention center would give them an easy out here to change the name. Undoubtedly, a faction of the fan base will want them to dig in and resist the movement.
If you want to read a good faith argument for engaging with and rebutting the bigotries of historical figures as opposed to canceling them, click on this New York Times op/ed by University of Chicago philosophy professor Agnes Callard. In the piece, she presented that Aristotle had problematic views about women and slavery, but that he should be read and debated instead of canceled.