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Kentucky, Alabama basketball icon C.M. Newton dies at 88

By
Alex Butler

June 5 (UPI) -- College basketball pioneer C.M. Newton has died at age 88.

Charles Martin Newton was a player, coach and administrator for more than 50 years. He helped to recruit the first black scholarship athlete at the University of Alabama and also integrated athletics at Transylvania University. Newton also hired the first black men's and women's basketball coaches at the University of Kentucky.

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"He was a man that didn't see color and was a genuine, caring man that we'll miss dearly and that we loved dearly," former Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith tweeted.

Newton won a national championship in 1951 as a player at Kentucky, posting a 32-2 record. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

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From there he went on to coach at Transylvania, Alabama and Vanderbilt University. Newton returned to Kentucky in 1989 to serve as athletic director.

"C.M. Newton is a giant in the history of the University of Kentucky, the Southeastern Conference and in the sport of basketball," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a news release after Newton's death Monday. "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."

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As chairman of the NCAA rules committee, Newton introduced the shot clock and the 3-point shot. Newton became president of USA Basketball in 1992 and held the role until 1996. Newton also helped select the original Dream Team for the Olympics in 1992.

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"Coach Newton has been a mentor for me for a number of years and has guided my career from the first time I met him," Smith said.

Kentucky coach John Calipari posted an article on his website on May 31, asking for prayers for Newton, who he said was struggling. Newton was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery to remove his bladder in 2014. He also underwent chemotherapy.

Newton was a four-time SEC Coach of the Year.

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