John Calipari defends Keion Brooks' comments about Rupp Arena name change

John Calipari defends Keion Brooks' comments about Rupp Arena name change

Zack Geogheganabout 1 year


Aritcle written by:Zack GeogheganZack Geoghegan


Keion brooks The University of Kentucky has seen several of its most prominent student-athletes speak out during a historic few days in American sports and Keion Brooks Jr. was one of the people who unfairly received the most criticism. On Friday, after Brooks Jr. recently told the media during a virtual press conference that he would be in favor of changing the name of Rupp Arena, his head coach, John Calipari, came to his player's defense, saying that his opinion should be shown the respect he has earned and deserves.

#BBN, I know some of you are upset with @KeionB_12’s comments regarding @Rupp_Arena. Let me tell you he’s a very smart person and a very conscientious young man. However you feel about what he said, my hope is you show him the respect that all of our/your players deserve.

My job is to make sure all of our players are educated on all that goes along with Coach Rupp’s name and we are going to walk through that. My plan is to get former players on a Zoom with our current guys so they can ask those players directly about Coach Rupp.

My focus has been on everything going forward, which is why we hadn’t addressed it. As I’ve said before, give these players the benefit of the doubt. If you’re unhappy w/anything, be unhappy with me, not a 19-year-old who is walking through these difficult times. I love you all.

Calipari states that he plans on setting up a Zoom call with his team and some former players so they can more accurately flesh out the truths of the situation. Recently, Calipari has been extra active with helping educate his team, teaching them the importance of voting and, in the process, registering his entire team to vote. Brooks spoke to the media on Friday for roughly 16 minutes, addressing several issues and topics that ranged from the Rupp Arena name change, the ongoing social and racial injustices in America, and what he's seen in sports throughout the past week. The rising sophomore is the lone returning player from last season's team but is anticipated to make a major leap in production. Before the season has begun, he's already made a leap as the team's leader. Over the last two weeks, Brooks has been named one of 11 members that will join the NABC Player Development Coalition, along with one of five Wildcats tabbed to the SEC's Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice. During his interview with the media, Brooks spoke up on the topic of potentially changing the name of the famous Rupp Arena, which is located in downtown Lexington and named after former head coach Adolph Rupp. While he admitted that he would need to gather more information, Brooks was confident when he stated that he believes the name should be changed to something that has not been connected to a history of racism. “Being honest, I haven’t educated myself enough on Adolph Rupp, or the whole situation at hand to really give my thoughts on it," Brooks said. "But from what I do know, I would like to see a name change, just basically because what his name is and what that’s connected to and what it kind of represents. That’s really all I can say, but I would like to see a name change.” In a statement sent to ESPN, the UK African American and Africana Studies Program, the same department that initially sparked the rally for a potential name change to Rupp Arena, commended Brooks for his thoughts and called upon Calipari to discuss the issue further with his team.
"The faculty of the African American [and] Africana Studies Program and the Commonwealth Institute of Black Studies offer our support to Keion Brooks, Jr.," the statement said. "He courageously supported our call to change the name of Rupp Arena. Mr. Brooks has made this stand knowing full well the vitriol he will face from a segment of University of Kentucky sports fans. Mr. Brooks is already a leader on these issues as a member of the [SEC Council on Racial Equality and Social Justice]. We welcome Mr. Brooks, his teammates, Coach Calipari, and his staff to meet with us to educate him and others further about why Rupp's name should be removed from the arena. Finally, we encourage Mr. Brooks, student-athletes, and students interested in these issues to consider enrolling in our Race and Sports class in Spring 2021." [via ESPN]
University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said back in January that the arena will keep the Rupp name "forever". Calipari said earlier this week that he is "all ears" when it comes to having discussions about a potential name change. We'll see where the conversation goes from here.

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