Former Alabama Head Basketball Coach CM Newton Passes Away

Former Alabama Head Basketball Coach CM Newton Passes Away

"I was extremely saddened when I heard of the passing of legendary former University of Alabama coach C.M. Newton", said head men's basketball coach Avery Johnson.

For many years after, Newton - who passed away Monday afternoon at the age of 88 - had a photo of Elliott and his fellow seniors from that first season on his desk, a daily reminder of everything that went into the success that was to come.

Newton was instrumental in recruiting the first African-American scholarship athlete at the University of Alabama, Wendell Hudson, in 1968; integrating a program for the second time (Newton also integrated athletics at Kentucky's Transylvania University during his stint as a head coach, which immediately preceded his Alabama tenure).

As Kentucky's athletic director, Newton's hiring of eventual Hall of Famer Rick Pitino as men's basketball coach helped the Wildcats overcome NCAA sanctions to win the 1996 national title.

"Coach Newton was a true leader in intercollegiate athletics", Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said.

His biggest imprint off the court was at Kentucky, where in 1989 upon being hired as athletic director, Newton took charge of a once-proud Wildcats basketball program reeling from NCAA violations and probation under Eddie Sutton. Newton's hiring of Smith and Bernadette Mattox marked the first two African-American head coaches for United Kingdom men's and women's basketball.

Current Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said Newton was "a giant" at the school, with the SEC and throughout the sport.

When Pitino left for the Boston Celtics the following year, Newton made Tubby Smith the first African-American head coach in school history, almost 30 years after Adolph Rupp's all-white Wildcats lost to Texas Western, which started five black players, in the 1966 national title game.

"My deepest condolences go to the Newton family tonight".

Newton retired as Kentucky's athletic director in 1999.

Within four years, Pitino had taken the program back to the Final Four. He made a tremendous impact on The University of Alabama, the University of Kentucky, Vanderbilt University, Transylvania University and the Southeastern Conference.

Newton also served as an assistant SEC commissioner. After college, Newton signed a professional baseball contract with the New York Yankees and pitched briefly in the minor leagues, before turning to coaching basketball. He continued to stay active as a basketball consultant for the SEC and other entities and he also helped coordinate the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) after it was acquired by the NCAA. After Pitino left Kentucky for the National Basketball Association in 1997, Newton hired Smith as his replacement.

At Kentucky he was a pitcher on the baseball team in addition to playing basketball from 1948 to 1951.

As chairman of the NCAA rules committee, Newton introduced the shot clock and the 3-point shot.

He was also the president of USA Basketball for four years from 1992 to 1996, where he played a huge role in the selection of the "Dream Team" that rolled through the '92 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. "And I don't think there's anybody that's ever been associated with him that didn't think the same thing - what a great person he was". He is survived by three children, along with his second wife, Nancy, whom he married in 2002. He was a pioneer in a lot of areas, including having the courage to hire an African-American as coach at Kentucky and to recruit African-American players at Alabama.

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