A group of University of Kentucky faculty is pushing for racial equity at the university and is lobbying for a name change to Rupp Arena, among other things, as they call for "another series of actions that focus on deeper, structural change" at UK.
The request for a change to the name of the historic basketball venue came in a letter from faculty in the university's African-American and Africana Studies program sent to Kentucky President Eli Capilouto. The letter was posted online Thursday and laid out 10 actions that the faculty asserted "will demonstrate that Black lives truly do matter at the University of Kentucky."
Rupp Arena, the Wildcats' home since 1976, is named after former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp, who is often accused of being slow to integrate his teams at UK, where he coached from 1930-72.
"The Adolph Rupp name has come to stand for racism and exclusion in UK athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees," the letter said. "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."
Changing the name of the arena might not be solely up to university leaders such as Capilouto, however. Rupp Arena is owned and operated by the Lexington Center Corporation, which is an agency of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. The facility is not on UK's campus and is owned by a quasi-governmental agency.
UK and the Lexington Center Corporation announced in January that naming rights to the arena and surrounding convention center had been sold to Central Bank and that the facility's new official name is Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. The naming agreement is set to last through 2033.