• Special to The Sun

A portrayal of Adolph Rupp to be presented at historical society


“Adolph Rupp: The Coach,” the story of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach, will  be presented Thursday, March 22, at the Woodford County Historical Society’s library and museum at 121 Rose Hill in Versailles. (Photo submitted)

The Woodford County Historical Society, together with Kentucky Chautauqua, will present “Adolph Rupp: The Coach,” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at the society’s library and museum at 121 Rose Hill, Versailles.

During the 42 years he coached the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, Adolph Rupp raised the game to near-religious status in the Commonwealth. Rupp’s teams won 880 games, four national championships, and one Olympic gold medal. There was a flip side to all this success - the team was suspended for the 1952-53 season after a point-shaving scandal, and Rupp was heavily criticized for taking too long to integrate the Kentucky basketball program.

Adolph Rupp grew up in Kansas, the son of immigrant farmers. He played three years of varsity basketball at the University of Kansas, but never scored a point. He began his coaching career in Kansas, but soon moved on to high schools in Iowa and Illinois. The University of Kentucky hired him in 1930. Rupp’s genius for public relations and his team’s winning ways combined to make Kentucky basketball a statewide phenomenon, a point of pride around which Kentuckians of all stripes still rally.

Edward Smith portrays Adolph Rupp for Kentucky Chautauqua. A Kentucky native, Smith earned a bachelor of arts degree from Georgetown College, a master of arts degree from the University of South Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, all in performance studies. Smith is co-director of the Kentucky Educational Speech and Drama Association and a member of the Kentucky Film Lab’s Advisory Board. He teaches theatre and film classes at Georgetown College, where he is an associate professor. In addition to his work adapting Kentucky literature for the stage, Smith is an award-winning filmmaker. He also portrays Justice John Marshall Harlan for Kentucky Chautauqua. He lives in Cynthiana with his wife Betsy and his three sons, Ethan, Harry and Ross. Betsy, Ethan and Harry are also Kentucky Chautauqua performers.

Kentucky Chautauqua is an exclusive presentation of Kentucky Humanities with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from the Brown-Forman Corporation, the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation, the Cralle Foundation, Eastern Kentucky University, the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation, Lindsey Wilson College, Morehead State University, Mountain Telephone, Paducah Bank, PNC, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, Inc.

Kentucky Humanities is a non-profit Kentucky corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information, visit kyhumanities.org or call (859) 257-5932.

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