(LEX 18) The University of Kentucky has confirmed that former UK student-athlete and athletics director, C.M Newton, has died at the age of 88. He died in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
C.M. Newton played basketball and baseball for the University of Kentucky. Newton was part of the Wildcats’ 1951 National Championship team under Coach Adolph Rupp.
He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force before becoming a basketball coach.
Newton found success as a basketball coach at Transylvania, Alabama, and Vanderbilt. During his time as a coach, they won more than 500 games. He was the athletics director at UK from 1989-2000.
“C.M. Newton is a giant in the history of the University of Kentucky, the Southeastern Conference and in the sport of basketball,” said current UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. “As a student-athlete, he was a national champion basketball player and star baseball pitcher. He returned to his alma mater when he was needed most and provided stability, leadership and growth for UK Athletics for more than a decade. His coaching accomplishments and honors at Transylvania, Alabama and Vanderbilt speak for themselves. His contributions to the sport of basketball continue to this day. As chairman of the NCAA rules committee, he introduced the shot clock and the 3-point shot. For decades, he worked tirelessly to promote international basketball and was well-rewarded by his election to the Naismith Hall of Fame. Most of all is the impact he had on thousands of people as a coach, mentor and friend. He understood what it meant to be a servant-leader and will be dearly missed. Our condolences and best wishes go out to his wife, Nancy, his children Deborah, Tracy and Martin, and the family and friends."
Charles Martin Newton is a native of Rockwood, Tennessee and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 2017, the SEC network aired a C.M. Newton tribute documentary called "Courage Matters- The C.M. Newton Story",
The film covered his contribution to basketball and social justice. He was known as a pioneer of racial integration. He recruited the first African-American basketball players at Transylvania University and Alabama.
True Blue fans probably remember Newton best for coming back to his alma mater and helping rebuild the program after UK was put on probation by the NCAA.
Coach Cal had posted on Twitter asking for prayers for Newton last Thursday, saying that Newton always treated him like family.
An hour or so ago, C.M. Newton passed away. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. During one of the most trying times of our athletic department, he came to the rescue and put us on the path we are today. May you rest in peace, my friend. pic.twitter.com/InGk58yQzB
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) June 5, 2018
CM Newton has passed away…an icon in SEC and UK sports who hired Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and Hal Mumme at Kentucky (among others). With long history at UK and Transylvania, he was a Lexington sports fixture and a truly nice man. Rest In Peace C.M.
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) June 4, 2018
Newton’s first wife, Evelyn, died the same year he retired from UK. He married Nancy Watts and returned to Tuscaloosa in 2002. His children were Deborah, Tracy, and MArtin. UK says that 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.
From 1979-1985, Newton was chairman of the NCAA Basketball Rules Committee. During that time, the shot clock and the 3-point shot came into existence.
His coaching accomplishments and honors at Transylvania, Alabama and Vanderbilt speak for themselves. His contributions to the sport of basketball continue to this day. As chairman of the NCAA rules committee, he introduced the shot clock and the 3-point shot.
— Mitch Barnhart (@UKMitchBarnhart) June 5, 2018
“Today, the Commonwealth of Kentucky lost C.M. Newton, a Hall of Fame legend in college sports. As a player, coach, and administrator, C.M. was a trailblazer who helped integrate teams and develop the game of basketball we know today. His leadership at the University of Kentucky inspired a renewed sense of excitement that fans continue to enjoy throughout the Bluegrass State. With respect and dignity, my friend C.M. created a legacy of excellence that will carry on for years to come. Elaine and I join countless players, fans, and loved ones to remember C.M’s remarkable life and to send our deepest condolences to his family," said Mitch McConnell.
Mayor Jim Gray also weighed in:
C.M. Newton was generous and one-of-a-kind. He was a great coach and a courageous leader who helped break down racial barriers. He was universally respected.
— Mayor Jim Gray (@JimGrayLexKY) June 5, 2018