UTEP coach Tim Floyd told a group of fans and media members at the school's tipoff luncheon Wednesday that the Miners are working on a deal to play Kentucky in 2016 to commemorate the national title game between the two schools 50 years earlier. A UTEP official confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Wednesday afternoon that discussions between the two schools have taken place but emphasized that an agreement has not been finalized yet.
It would be terrific for college basketball if Kentucky accepts UTEP's proposition because the 1966 title game deserves any recognition such an event would bring.
American cultural and sporting mythology insisted in 1966 that black athletes needed the steadying influence of white teammates to succeed, but Don Haskins' 1965-66 Texas Western team defied the stereotype. The first major-college team to ever start five blacks in any game upset conventional wisdom by going 27-1 that season and toppling top-ranked and all-white Kentucky 72-65 in the national title game.
The integration of college basketball took a giant leap forward in the years that followed Texas Western's unlikely championship. Every Southern conference including the SEC had integrated basketball teams by the following season because coaches realized they either had to change or risk being non-competitive outside their region.
A report from Darren Hunt of the El Paso ABC affiliate said Floyd told fans the rematch between Kentucky and UTEP would potentially be played on Martin Luther King Day in College Park, Md., site of the 1966 game. If that were to come to fruition, it would only make the event better.
Maryland officials have reportedly discussed holding one game every year at Cole Field House after successfully hosting the school's Midnight Madness event there on Friday night. Well, there's no better event to open the Cole Field House doors for in 2016 than the 50th anniversary of a national title game that will never be forgotten.
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