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Former Louisville Star Butch Beard wants his name purged from the university’s record books over what he sees as a very serious concern within the athletic department.
Beard, who played at Louisville in the 1960s before a decade-long career in the NBA, is upset at the lack of Black coaches that have been hired at the school — and met with Louisville president Neeli Bendapudi about the issue on Thursday.
Beard wants his name removed from Louisville records
Beard wrote a letter to Bendapudi and Louisville this week asking to have his name removed from the school’s record books.
"I say the following both in sadness and anger but I feel I have no recourse," Beard wrote in his letter, via ESPN. "Given the lack of acknowledgement to the legacy of former Black players and the lack of commitment in diversity hiring, I am asking the university to remove my name and accomplishments from any existing or future mention. The university's commitment to young Black men is far from what it should look like in 2021. I know the university in the past has attracted players by using my name, and although it may not be as relevant now, this for me is a matter of principle."
Beard played for the Cardinals for three seasons from 1966-69, and averaged 19 points per game during his career. He was then selected with the No. 10 overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1969 draft.
Beard, now 73, spent a decade in the NBA, though took a season off to serve in the U.S. Army. He spent time with the Hawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Seattle SuperSonics, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks before retiring in 1979.
Part of his reasoning for wanting his name removed, Beard wrote, is that the school hasn’t hired Black coaches to help serve as role models for Black athletes. The football program has had two Black coaches — Charlie Strong and Ron Cooper — but the basketball program has had just three white coaches since 1971. Chris Mack currently leads the Cardinals.
"The university has been remiss and negligent in its hiring practices within the athletic department," Beard wrote in his letter, via ESPN. "No Black role models exist for the student athletes playing men's basketball or football. You may think assistant coaches in these sports are sufficient. They are not. Players need and want head coaches to confide in on real life issues on and off the court. Respect comes from the top: the head coach.
"I speak from the experience I have had as that role model at two HBCU schools. I saw first generation Black kids attend college and witnessed the type of guidance that's necessary. Not every Black kid playing a sport has the promise or should have the promise of going professional. Many times this is the false narrative when the real goal should be getting an education. Without relatable guidance from a person who looks like you and has traveled this road, this imperative can be lost."
Beard meets with Louisville president
Beard met with Bendapudi on Thursday, a conversation he categorized as “nice.”
"I think there were a number of issues that were brought up that she's more aware of now than she was," Beard said after the meeting, via ESPN’s Myron Medcalf.
Though Bendapundi sounds committed to improving, Beard said he still wants his name removed “until I see change.”
"I deeply appreciate the heartfelt letter from Mr. Beard," Bendapudi said in a statement before she met with Beard, via ESPN. “He is a Cardinal legend and will always be remembered for his many accomplishments on the court and in the classroom. Mr. Beard rightly points out that in the past, the university may not have always lived up to its responsibility to provide an equal opportunity to Black candidates seeking jobs at the highest levels of our athletic department.
"I can say with total confidence that [athletic director Vince Tyra] and I are committed to changing that narrative. Our goal is for the University of Louisville to achieve its full potential as an antiracist university. That means that no job candidate should ever have an advantage (or disadvantage) during the hiring process based on their race."
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