Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William B. Sturgill, April 16, 2003

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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 BIRDWHISTELL: All right. Well, Mr. Sturgill, it's the day after tax day, I guess, April 16th.

STURGILL: And I'm not very pleased. [Both chuckling] You picked --

BIRDWHISTELL: I shouldn't have brought it up, should I? [Chuckle]

STURGILL: Your visit is always welcome. However, this is a bad day. [Chuckle]

BIRDWHISTELL: April 16, 2003. Last time we talked a lot about your going to Frankfort with the [John Y., Jr.] Brown administration, and about working down there, and how the Brown administration sort of functioned, and you gave some 00:01:00very good insight into John Y. Brown himself. And today I thought we'd start off by talking about your involvement with the racing commission. And if you could sort of just tell me how your involvement with the racing commission came about, and we'll get into some of the issues that you faced on that.

STURGILL: We were at a management retreat, a board retreat -- cabinet retreat, I guess, down at Lake Barkley, and Governor Brown brought us up-to-date as to problems he was having throughout the state government. And he mentioned the racing commission and said that he had to replace Brownell Combs. And he was 00:02:00"looking for somebody who needed to go over there and straighten it out," were, I think, his terms. At least provide it some leadership.


STURGILL: And he looked around the room, and he suggested Bill Young. And I supported that right quickly and said that that would be the ideal situation.


STURGILL: And he understands the racing industry. And Bill went and made some telephone calls - to whom, I do not know - but he came back and said, "I can't do that."


STURGILL: So John -- we kind of adjourned the meeting -- recessed the meeting 00:03:00for a while. Bill went in -- Bill and I went in John's room and he said, "Well, why don't you do it, Bill?" I said, "Well, I have horses and I know about the industry, but I'm not one of these avid owners. I've got other things that I have invested my money in." And I said, "But we'll talk about it." "No," he said, "we're not going to talk about it anymore."

[Chuckle--Birdwhistell] Said, "You be out there in the morning at the racing commission office as the new chairman."

BIRDWHISTELL: How about that? What did you know about the racing commission? What had been your interaction with them up to that point?

STURGILL: Well, I had -- I knew what the commission did, and I wasn't -- didn't 00:04:00have full knowledge of their activities, but I had a fellow working for me at the energy department named Jim Navolio. And Jim was a good man, and is a good man. He works for state government now. And I had Jim in mind coming home that afternoon, so I called him, and I said, "How would you like to run the racing commission?" I said, "If I'm the chairman, I can't be a day-to-day guy." And I said, "There's a lot of things that need to be done, particularly to the backside. You've got a problem with Ed --" I can't remember his last name, who ran the horsemen's group. And I said, "There's a lot of other problems. And how about you meeting me early in the morning to talk about that? That 00:05:00meeting's at ten o'clock. And if we do this, we've got to hit the ground running." And Jim said, "I'd love to." So my encouraging Jim to go to the racing commission was a big plus.


STURGILL: And we were able to make changes, and we were able to do what was necessary through his knowledge of what racing was. And he made me look good,

[chuckle--Birdwhistell] really.

BIRDWHISTELL: You want that to happen.

STURGILL: And that's what I believe a manager should do for you.

BIRDWHISTELL: Exactly. Exactly.

STURGILL: We only had a few controversies, but our big controversy was Sunday racing.


STURGILL: And I said to each of the tracks, "If you make a case for Sunday 00:06:00racing, I'll see that you get it." Well, it was pretty tough. They were just -- the racing industry was having a tough time, the tracks were.


STURGILL: Keeneland had their breeding operation and their sales operations, so they weren't in any trouble, but the other tracks --

BIRDWHISTELL: Latonia, and what is it down in Henderson, Miles? Anyway, those are the types of tracks that were --


BIRDWHISTELL: -- were on the --

STURGILL: Those two.


STURGILL: One in northern Kentucky and the one in western Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Churchill [Downs] and Keeneland --

STURGILL: Well, Churchill to a degree.


STURGILL: So Warner Jones was chairman at Churchill Downs and he and I were 00:07:00good friends. He came to me and he said, "We need Sunday racing." And there was nobody had the pants to do that before. "And other states are doing it." I said, "Well, let me see. You got somebody that can make a summary for me?" He had somebody at Churchill Downs who could do that, and they did. And it proved that it did help the attendance, and it did help the play.


STURGILL: So I said, "Well, the track that's in trouble is Henderson." So I went down there for a weekend, and they made a case. They showed me over a period of time that they had some consistency in both their attendance and their 00:08:00bets. Their average had increased on Sunday more than they had any other racing day.


STURGILL: So I said, "Well, we'll give you Sunday racing. And you'll have to wait until we have a meeting and do it formally, but you can go ahead and --

BIRDWHISTELL: Sort of plan it.

STURGILL: -- plan." So we had a meeting. I called a meeting right quick, but the press got a hold of it. And I was going to give it to all the tracks. You can't give it to one and not the other, so I gave it to all of them -- and did it in Louisville. So driving home I thought, boy, these horsemen will be pleased. And my phone will jingle at night and everybody'll be thanking me. 00:09:00Well, I got home and I had two calls.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, who were they from?

STURGILL: One was from my mother. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And the other one was from my preacher. And they both had the same message, and I don't need to tell you what it is. [Chuckle]

BIRDWHISTELL: I think I can pick up on that. [Chuckle] That's funny. That's a funny story.

STURGILL: That's -- that was the thanks I got. [Chuckle]

BIRDWHISTELL: No good deed goes unpunished. [Chuckle] Yeah, people in the future really can't appreciate the controversy about Sunday openings of stores and restaurants and liquor sales and horse racing.

STURGILL: Particularly, this is a state where that is slow getting any kind of 00:10:00a build-up.


STURGILL: I was right pleased about what we accomplished with the racing commission. I felt as though we made real progress with the backside, and that's a big population of people.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. What did you do? What are some of the types of things --

STURGILL: We cleaned it up, and we got some help with the narcotics.


STURGILL: And we got good people, good social workers in there. We got some housing, improved housing.


STURGILL: And we got an environment that was a lot better for them than it had been. And they appreciated it. The horse hands that -- the people who groomed the horses, who worked with them, they appreciated it.


BIRDWHISTELL: It's an interesting industry, isn't it, where you go from the thoroughbred owners and breeders down through the racing part of it, and to the backside where you have the almost migrant-type workers in a way?

STURGILL: Yeah. And I imagine with the migration of Mexicans that we've had in central Kentucky, and the population increase in that section of our being, that there's a lot of people involved in it now that's pretty capable.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. Umhmm. So the racing commission, appointed by the governor -- how many members were on the commission, roughly, when you were with the commission?

STURGILL: I think there was nine on it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Nine. And it's a fairly coveted appointment, --


BIRDWHISTELL: -- isn't it? I mean there are people who aspire to be on the 00:12:00racing commission who never get appointed to it.

STURGILL: A lot of them.


STURGILL: It is a very popular -- very desirable appointment by a lot of people, a lot sought after.

BIRDWHISTELL: Why is that? What makes it so appealing to people?

STURGILL: I guess because they get a free pass to the Derby. [Both chuckling]

There's some perks to it --


STURGILL: -- that are right good.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Who was on the commission at the time you served that was -- that perhaps was helpful to you, the most helpful to you?

STURGILL: Well, I'll name a few. I can't remember them all. Tom Gentry was on it. He was a knowledgeable horseman. Arthur Hancock --


STURGILL: -- and Anita Madden.

BIRDWHISTELL: All well-known names, of course.

STURGILL: And a fellow from Louisville who was in the horse business. And I'll 00:13:00tell you, we mailed an agenda out with back-up material for each item on the agenda prior to the board meetings. And the best prepared person who came to the meetings was Anita Madden.


STURGILL: And it was just not one meeting, Terry, it was every meeting we had.


STURGILL: And she made a contribution.


STURGILL: And I must tell you that I just thought she'd come and occupy a warm chair. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And I've told her this. I said, "You made a real contribution."

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting. I guess the -- as you were saying earlier, one of the big things the racing commission does is approve the dates for the racing at each track. And how -- I know that only gets in the paper when 00:14:00somebody's mad about it, usually, about a date, or somebody feels like they -- how does the state racing commission go about handing out racing dates? Through Keeneland and Churchill -- is it on, like, a hierarchy? Is it the best tracks get the best dates or --

STURGILL: No, it's kind of a seasonal thing. It's -- the dates have been about the same at each of the tracks, except in northern Kentucky, for a good many years, and it's a pattern. And the allocation of racing days is the big issue.

BIRDWHISTELL: Number of days?

STURGILL: Number of days. And some want to drop a day or pick up a day.


STURGILL: And it's a day when another track wants it. So we try to have a sequence of racing, starting here and here and going to the other one with a certain interval in it.


BIRDWHISTELL: So the horses would stay in the state?

STURGILL: Yeah, and so we'd have racing in as many days of the year --


STURGILL: -- as is practical.

BIRDWHISTELL: And the northern track went to almost winter racing, didn't they?


BIRDWHISTELL: Was that during the time you were on the racing commission?

STURGILL: They had a preference for that.


STURGILL: And it was good for them.


STURGILL: Jerry Carroll went up there from Nashville. He did it while we were there, and it was good for racing --


STURGILL: -- to change those dates.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. While you were on the racing commission -- there's a lot of talk now about the future of racing, slots, gambling, encroachment on the gambling dollar. Was the future of racing an issue when you were with the racing commission? Was there some concern that this wouldn't last?

STURGILL: Well, there was some concern about trying to get the economy of the 00:16:00racing industry improved.


STURGILL: And I use the word "economy" on the side of the track; get a track more profitable so they can do more things, the -- and increase the purses, get better horses. But the gambling issue, from the effort they're putting in it now and the venue they want now, was never mentioned during my term.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. It wouldn't have --

STURGILL: Wasn't an issue.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, we didn't have the lottery yet, and we didn't have -- and the riverboat gambling hadn't really taken off.

STURGILL: Riverboat gambling hadn't entered into the picture.


STURGILL: And if you're looking for my opinion, I would have a mixed opinion about that. I would have to have more information about how much income it 00:17:00would project, and what it might do to the overall picture of racing before I would look with favor on it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. I was re-reading an article about you before we started today. It's one of -- it's the article where you talked about, you know, one of the reasons you didn't run for governor is that people would always think of you as a coal person -- a coal operator. And said, "If you put me in a bag and shook me up [chuckle] and poured me out, I'd still be a coal man." And you say that with pride, of course. And what's it like as a coal man dealing with all these horsy people? How did that work for you?

STURGILL: Well, let me tell you what Mr. Combs said to me early on --



STURGILL: -- at a party, maybe the week after I was appointed. He said, "What does a coal man know about the horse business and the horse racing industry?" [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] I said, "The same thing John Brown knew about frying chicken." And he never mentioned it again.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] That's a good line.

STURGILL: I got along with the horse people well.


STURGILL: I tried to not let them dictate, as a lot of them wanted to.


STURGILL: And I tried to get them to advise, and they'd get a lot more done.


STURGILL: And we got along well.


STURGILL: I enjoyed my days on the racing commission.


BIRDWHISTELL: Because of what you were able to get done or --

STURGILL: What I was able to get done, and I liked the atmosphere.


STURGILL: John Gaines had the idea of the Breeder's Cup, and he -- I helped him assemble a group of people to sell it.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's an interesting move, that Breeder's Cup.


BIRDWHISTELL: And it got off to a shaky start. Were you involved in the controversy over the -- where Brereton Jones and a few threatened to pull out if they don't make some changes in the original format?

STURGILL: Well, I have forgotten what the real issue was, but it was more personalities than it was issues that had to do with the racing of the Breeder's Cup.


BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, and it was about the cost of entry fees, and whether or not you -- the smaller horse person was going to be excluded from participation and those types of things, and whether the big race would be a turf race or on the --

STURGILL: But all those issues could be easily settled if it wasn't for the personalities.

[Chuckle--Birdwhistell] You know, somebody's got to step in and say, "Let's put some reasoning behind each of these arguments now."

BIRDWHISTELL: But it was a big fight, wasn't it?

STURGILL: Oh, big fight.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. Were you afraid it was going to torpedo the whole effort? STURGILL: No. John Gaines was the guy that started the Breeder's Cup.


STURGILL: And unfortunately he had some conflicts. And therein lies the beginning of whatever controversy --



STURGILL: -- there was about the beginning. Now, after -- I got out about that time.

BIRDWHISTELL: And, of course, they eventually bumped Mr. Gaines up to a -- more of an honorific title and --

STURGILL: He's an honorary chairman.


STURGILL: And should be.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. I think -- speaking of Governor Jones, I think I remember correctly that Governor Brown had told him he was going to appoint him to the racing commission, and didn't, perhaps; appointed him to some other type of horse thing at the time. Does that sound familiar?

STURGILL: I don't remember.


STURGILL: If Governor Brown promised him, I'm surprised he didn't appoint him.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. I might have that story wrong. I'll have to go back and check that. But I think Governor Jones, at the time, aspired to be on the racing commission, I think. Was the world of the horse breeders -- was that a 00:22:00fairly small -- by comparison to other things you'd been in, was that a fairly small group of people? I mean did you get to -- I assume you got to know most of the people in the industry at that point. Or you did know them already, probably.

STURGILL: I knew a lot of them already. Those outside of the state, Terry, I didn't get to know very well.


STURGILL: I knew a lot of them. But most of them in state I didn't know, I got to know. And in numbers, they weren't as great as those that I -- you deal with in coal, for instance, at that time. Coal people have gotten to be fewer now --


STURGILL: -- than they were then.

BIRDWHISTELL: People outside the horse industry perhaps sometimes don't understand the relationship between the breeding operation and the horse farm 00:23:00operation and the racing. How would you describe that to somebody, in terms of how that relationship works? Because some horse people are more interested -- just stay on the breeding and selling side and don't really involve themselves in the racing part, and others, like Mr. Young, have been heavily involved in the racing part, correct?

STURGILL: Both sides. Both sides.


STURGILL: But his big stake is on the breeding side.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, the money -- certainly the money's there. But how -- what kind -- what is that relationship, from the perspective of somebody who ran the racing commission? Is there any way to help people understand that?

STURGILL: Unless you own the stallion and are in the breeding business, the best way I could describe it is when that mare goes in the breeding shed, you lose full control over whatever interests you've got in her.



STURGILL: It's in the hands of the Good Man.


STURGILL: There -- you take what you get.


STURGILL: And you put it on the track, or you raise it, and you do the best you can with it. But the control about how it is and what it is, is just what comes out of that mare.


STURGILL: I've got a farm, we've got horses, and when I see one go in a trailer to go to the breeding shack I say, "Goodbye, friend." You've got no more to say about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. When did you get involved in the horse business?

STURGILL: Oh, I was involved in the horse business when I lived in Hazard.


BIRDWHISTELL: Uh-huh. How'd you get involved?

STURGILL: Well, mostly through Warner Jones who called me and said, "Bill, I need -- I've got a good proposition for you to buy an interest in a mare." Or John Gaines would call and say, "I need -- I got some stallions here." And said, "I want you to -- ." And I always made money. And Richard -- and when I fixed this farm up out here I had a few horses, but most of them in conjunction with somebody else who was a larger player in the game than I wanted to be.

BIRDWHISTELL: You wanted a stake in it, but you didn't want to --

STURGILL: I didn't -- I had no desire to have a big farm and be a breeder. And I couldn't -- I can't do things unless I do it on a scale that suits me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. So when did you buy your first horse farm?



BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. And where -- do you still have it?

STURGILL: No, I sold the biggest part of it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Where was that?

STURGILL: Over in Scott County.

BIRDWHISTELL: Over in Scott County. I think you told me that. Yeah.

STURGILL: And I had 1,000 acres over there, and I still have 276.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of that original land?


BIRDWHISTELL: And that's -- and did you actually have horses on there?

STURGILL: Oh, yeah.


STURGILL: Yeah. It -- Richard wanted to get in the horse business. But the horse industry -- you have to have another industry and another business to support the horse industry.


STURGILL: Because the horse industry, the way we were in it and the way a lot of Jim Jones and Tom Smiths are in it, you have to have another business to support it.

BIRDWHISTELL: You can't break even with it?

STURGILL: Can't break even.


BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm. Well, that makes it an interesting business then, doesn't it?

STURGILL: Sure does. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And there are more people lose money in the horse business than makes it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, that's what Mr. Young has said too, that -- but now, Brereton Jones is an interesting operation in that he seems to approach it more like a business that has to make money, and he created a syndicate-type approach to the stallions. Did -- was that sort of a new approach that he came up with or --

STURGILL: No, that's been done in the industry prior to him --


STURGILL: -- on a much larger scale. The first -- my first acquaintance with the syndicate process came from Claiborne [Farm], Mr. Hancock.


STURGILL: And that was when -- then other farms would take a stallion and sell 00:28:00[inaudible] of people shares in that stallion, particularly those who wanted to bring a mare to him.


STURGILL: And I guess it grew in the times that things were bad, meaning not bad, but slow.


STURGILL: And I guess this syndication grew at that time.


STURGILL: But it's grown in Kentucky to be a bigger business than tobacco.


STURGILL: When I got in the tobacco business and bought my first warehouse was 00:29:00in `74. And I stayed in the warehouse business because I liked it, and I acquired seven warehouses.


STURGILL: And it was a billion-dollar industry in Kentucky.


STURGILL: And at the height of that, we sold seventeen to twenty million pounds.


STURGILL: And this last year, we sold 3.5 million pounds with one warehouse.

BIRDWHISTELL: With one warehouse.

STURGILL: And I haven't seen any numbers yet this year, but I doubt if we made money.


STURGILL: And the big value to a lot of the warehouses are the land that it sits on.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, that they're tearing down over south of town.


STURGILL: We had the back end of our big warehouse over on Fourth Street fall in. So we had insurance, and we looked at tearing it down, and it fell down. [Both chuckling] So we just cleaned it up, and we were going to build a storage facility there.


STURGILL: And a guy came along and wanted to buy it.

BIRDWHISTELL: So did you sell it to him?

STURGILL: I sold it to him.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] That's good.

STURGILL: I thought warehousing in Lexington is a good business, but it's kind of -- at the moment, they've got a lot of empty spaces.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. Did you enjoy the -- well, I think you still probably do enjoy the racetrack environment?


STURGILL: I enjoy it very much.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. What do you like about it?

STURGILL: Well, I like the scene. When it's set properly, you get -- you can bet, you see people, you can visit.

BIRDWHISTELL: Socialize a lot, yeah.

STURGILL: Well, recreation in Kentucky is at a premium. Your football stadium's full with a record of 3-7. You know, we did it consistent. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And that goes for racing.


STURGILL: I've been at Keeneland, which I love to go to Keeneland, and a guy working in your shop up at the mines is out on that rail cheering those horses on. That's -- and he sees you and he thinks you know all about racing. I'm 00:32:00sure he --

BIRDWHISTELL: He wants a tip.

STURGILL: Oh, yeah. But that's the kind of scene it sets, and I think it's good for Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. Umhmm. The environment at Keeneland and the environment at Churchill is so very different, though.

STURGILL: Yeah. Well, Churchill serves a lot of different groups, a lot of different -- it's a different environment.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. When you were chair of the racing commission, I think back to poor old Governor Nunn, you know, his first year as governor after the Derby, he gets a call that says they've found something in the horse. And I forget -- what was the name of the horse was that they had to take --

STURGILL: Oh, I remember the incident.

BIRDWHISTELL: He -- yeah, you know what I'm talking about. And, you know, I think that was one of the low moments of his administration because, you know, the Derby for a governor is supposed to be, you know, one of the best weekends 00:33:00of the year. And here, you know, a drug controversy just makes it terrible. Has --

STURGILL: And they finally disqualified that horse.

BIRDWHISTELL: They did. They absolutely did. And I was curious, as chair of the racing commission, did you ever worry about the big races and whether things would go okay?

STURGILL: No, I had confidence in Jim Navolio.


STURGILL: And he and I -- I said, "If you see -- if you just suspect anything's wrong, you tell me, and we'll act on it before it gets started."

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Because the -- racing depends on that ability to keep it all above-board, doesn't it? I mean --



STURGILL: Keep it clean.

BIRDWHISTELL: Clean. And if you don't, then it starts to unravel real quick.

STURGILL: Yeah, and it'll unravel faster than anything I can think of.


BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Yeah.

STURGILL: Because everybody's looking for a buck --


STURGILL: -- around the racetrack.

BIRDWHISTELL: And so this -- like out at the Gluck Center where they have the people who worked on the drug investigations and all of these types of things, that's all a big part of the industry in that sense, isn't it?

STURGILL: As I recall, we started the procedure of checking these horses for drugs on a regular basis, on an orderly basis, on a need basis, to satisfy us. And I think they have improved that process greatly and improved the scheduling. And I think it's helped racing.


BIRDWHISTELL: So do you remember the first Derby you went to?

STURGILL: Yes. I was in college.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] I thought you might have been.

STURGILL: [Chuckle] And I got in that infield and I said, "How in the hell do I get out of here?" [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] We had ridden a bus to the track from downtown.


STURGILL: And I knew where the car was parked, and I thought, "That's the place for me." So I got out of the infield and got on a -- not a bus that was scheduled for us --

BIRDWHISTELL: Not a shuttle, yeah.

STURGILL: -- but just a bus on a regular run. And it took me half a day to get to that car. I finally got to where I knew the streets and I could get off and walk. [Both chuckling] I got my first box at the Derby in 1952.



STURGILL: And it was on the first turn.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's pretty quick though, isn't it, to get a box?

STURGILL: On the third -- yeah, but I had a -- I was secretary of the operator's association up in Hazard --


STURGILL: -- and I was in Louisville, and there was a guy named Billy Miller, who was executive vice president or something. But he had -- I don't think he was a director at Churchill Downs, but he had something to do with Churchill Downs. And Mr. [Fitz?], who's a fellow up at Hazard, was an operator and a member of the association that I represented. And he mentioned to me that he thought Billy Miller could get me a box. And I thought he was just making me feel good. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And so I happened to be in Louisville at the 00:37:00bank, and I've forgotten why now, and met Mr. Miller.


STURGILL: And I thought, 'Well, I'll just find out what legitimacy there is to -- .' And he told me that -- I mean, I asked him, I said, "Mr. [Fitz?] mentioned that you might be able to get me a box at the Derby -- for the Derby, and I'd appreciate it very much." And I've forgotten who was running Churchill Downs then, but he got me that box.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's funny.

STURGILL: And I kept it until I could deal on my own. [Both chuckling] Because it was on -- but it was in a good crowd, Smith Broadbent and --


STURGILL: -- and, oh, Congressman Carter.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Tim Lee Carter.


STURGILL: Tim Lee Carter and a lawyer from over at Frankfort. They all had boxes down there.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's great. So it was a short time from the infield to a box at the Derby. That's --

STURGILL: And, well, I'm -- I improved my box at the Derby. I got -- that third-floor box --


STURGILL: -- I've got up on the -- it's not too far from the finish line.


STURGILL: And my box is -- my table's on the sixth floor.


STURGILL: Right on the finish line.

BIRDWHISTELL: Huh. [Chuckle]

STURGILL: Warner -- and I'll tell you a story about that. Warner Jones was bugging me about Sunday racing. And I said, "What the hell do I get out of this?"

[Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And Warner said -- I never shall forget, Warner said, 00:39:00"You're not a whore, are you?" [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] I said, "No, but I'm always doing things for you." And finally he says, "What do you want?" I said, "I want the chairman's table at the Derby for the rest of my life." [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] Well, he said, "Well, I can't do that." I said, "Well, we've got problems." And that's where Singletary and I sit at the Derby. [Both chuckling]

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, that's great. That's great.

STURGILL: So Martha Layne [Collins] tried to take it away from me.


STURGILL: Bill Collins.


STURGILL: And finally, when CSX gave them the train -- and I started that. And 00:40:00I wished I hadn't -- had never started it.


STURGILL: So I told Martha Layne that if she'd give the rest -- I'll take eight tickets, sixteen tickets at that table, I said, "I'll keep eight tickets if you'll give the other eight to CSX."


STURGILL: "And I'll work it out with the commission -- with Churchill Downs."


STURGILL: And that's who gets the other. Of course, I think the governor's office has them, but CSX is supposed to get them.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's in their name.

STURGILL: And I never raised a question, I just -- hell, I got mine and --

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. That's great.


STURGILL: The -- we're about, oh, thirty steps from the betting window, got bath facilities right behind us. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] We've got to find a way to get in and out rather than the route we're using after we get parked.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was going to say, the only other plus would be to have some type of police escort to get in and out of there.

STURGILL: Yeah. Well, I've been parking in that VIP lot where the governor -- I got a pass there. And our problem is, where we sit, we've got to go back here and catch an elevator, --


STURGILL: -- and then when we get downstairs, the crowd, if you go outside, they'll push you down.


STURGILL: And if you stay inside, you can't make any progress about getting out.


BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. It's quite an event. And I guess the Oaks has become -- almost gotten as crowded, it seems like.

STURGILL: I haven't said anything to Otis -- we're going to -- I think we're going to dinner tonight. I guess he's able to go, I don't know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, he's -- I mean, he's -- I think he's going to be able to, if he feels up to it. That's interesting. So do you like mixing with all the celebrities?

STURGILL: Well, yes, I like to see them and know who they are. I met Dave Thomas with Wallace --


STURGILL: -- and enjoyed him, because we -- up at the mines we always eat at Wendy's.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Yeah.

STURGILL: And the name celebrities from Hollywood's always -- and the 00:43:00politicians you know by name, maybe not --


STURGILL: -- have never met them; you enjoy that.

BIRDWHISTELL: You know who they are. Sure. Sure. Was there ever any concern about the continuation of the status of the Derby on the part of the racing commission or on the part of horse people? I mean is it -- pretty much has a life of its own, I guess?

STURGILL: Yeah. I don't think there's any reason to ever believe that it'll be discontinued. It's one of the great sporting events in the world. And everybody -- it's like the Masters [Golf Tournament].

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, everybody knows about it.

STURGILL: It's created its own identity and its own name recognition, own importance.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. Let me turn this over.


[End of Tape #1, Side #1]

[Begin Tape #1, Side #2]

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, I assume your appointment to the commission was a set term?

STURGILL: It was for four years.

BIRDWHISTELL: Four years. And so you went out of the chair, when, on --


STURGILL: I immediately went out of the chair when Martha Layne was elected governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, that's when you -- okay. Let's talk about that a little bit. You looked at running for governor yourself in 1983; decided not to. And you supported Harvey Sloane.

STURGILL: Well, I wanted to run for governor. I thought I'd make a good governor. I thought I had the -- I thought that I was made constitutionally in such a way I'd do what was right, regardless of what it would do to my political ambition in the future. So I hired a pollster. Wendell Ford got him for me. 00:46:00And he came down here and he ran the poll for me. And when I looked the polls over, with the numbers in them, I knew the best thing for me to do was to keep on doing what I was doing. And so I lost all interest in my being a candidate.


STURGILL: And I had planned to do -- we did not have public financing in those days, and what I planned to do was to drop about two million dollars into it to start with, and that would take some of the boys out right quick --



STURGILL: -- in those days.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah, if you start with two million, that puts you in front right away.

STURGILL: If I -- and that's one thing -- I think Bruce, if he's going to put a million in, he should put four in.

BIRDWHISTELL: Bruce Lunsford.

STURGILL: And he'd have slowed the -- maybe gotten Jody [Richards] and some of these guys out of it. But that's -- but the -- in answer to your question about me, I knew when I looked at that poll and the comments of the poll -- and I was pretty unpopular in the decade of the `60s and the decade of the `70s in Kentucky.


STURGILL: So I knew that -- with that in mind, I knew that I shouldn't run for governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Probably the good news is you had high name recognition; the bad 00:48:00news is, because of the controversies that had followed you, you had high negatives, I guess. Would that be an accurate --

STURGILL: Yes. I always said people respect me, but they don't particularly like me. [Both chuckling]

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, if you have to choose, choose respect first, right?

STURGILL: I've always said that. Whether it's right or wrong is a matter to be debated, I guess.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. So the more I read, you know, the articles from that time, the more it seems to me that was a big disappointment to you, --


BIRDWHISTELL: -- you know, because that's something you really wanted.

STURGILL: I wanted -- since I was a young man I wanted to be governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. It's interesting, most of the things you wanted you worked hard and got. But this wasn't something that you could run like a 00:49:00business, right?

STURGILL: Yeah. I didn't think I had the strength to make the difference and overcome the name recognition problem.


STURGILL: And, Terry, I was very strained during that time of the `60s, --


STURGILL: -- going through that controversy and being unpopular. It bothered me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Because you'd always been a popular guy.


BIRDWHISTELL: You know, you weren't used to being the villain.

STURGILL: And I -- my dear wife, she'd try to console me during those periods of time and say, "Well, think of the good things. You're thinking of all the bad things. Think of the good things you do." Said, "Where -- who got the community college in Hazard?"



STURGILL: "Who gets the roads built? And who does things for the community?" I said, "Honey, that's done been done." [Both chuckling] "They don't remember that."

BIRDWHISTELL: So once you decide not to throw your hat in the ring --

STURGILL: I didn't particularly have anybody that I really wanted to support. Bert Combs and Bill May was for Harvey Sloane. And I had my office over there in that building across the way. And they came in there one afternoon late.

BIRDWHISTELL: Combs and May?

STURGILL: Combs and May.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's quite a roomful, you, Bert Combs, and Bill May.


STURGILL: Yeah. And they said, "We need your help."


STURGILL: And I said, "You've had my help ever since I've been able to help." [Chuckle] He said, "No, we want you to be for Harvey Sloane." And I said, "Well, that guy needs a lot of help." And May said, "Yeah, umhmm, I know, and we're going to help him." [Both chuckling] "We're going to help him."

STURGILL: So I agreed to be for Harvey. And Dennis Hendrix was running Texas Gas Transmission Company in Owensboro --


STURGILL: -- and had been on one of my energy committees out at the energy 00:52:00center, and we got to be good friends. And so I called Dennis about being for Harvey. "Well," he said, "he's been calling me for an appointment." Said, "I'll go ahead and give it to him, see if we can't work something out." I said, "That'd be fine, I'd appreciate it." About two days he called me. He said, "I told this guy I'd be for him because you asked me to." [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] "But that's the sorriest son of a bitch I ever saw." [Both chuckling] He said [chuckle], "We're sitting there having a conversation, and he went to sleep."

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Oh, goodness. Why were Bert Combs and Bill May so big on Harvey Sloane?

STURGILL: Well, they each thought that they'd have the governor's mansion -- or the governor's office.


STURGILL: Harvey Sloane, he didn't have any backbone. That was their 00:53:00reasoning. They're both gone and couldn't defend it --


STURGILL: -- so I hate to say it, but --


STURGILL: -- but that was the whole reasoning behind it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, he -- I've talked to lots of people over time that worked for Harvey Sloane, and they all feel let down in it, to an extent; you know, that his campaign didn't live up to the promise.

STURGILL: He just didn't have something that would make a public figure in Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. What -- when you got to know Harvey Sloane, the guy you were supporting for governor -- you know, you're in the same room with Harvey Sloane, and that must have been an interesting experience for you because you knew you were tougher. You knew you were more involved in public policy in Kentucky, had to --

STURGILL: And he couldn't debate the issues. He didn't know what they were.


STURGILL: He couldn't talk about K-10 or K-12.


BIRDWHISTELL: Right. You knew economics, you knew education, you were involved in all the major industries in Kentucky.

STURGILL: He -- well, he had money and he had family connections and --

BIRDWHISTELL: He had Bingham connections, too.


BIRDWHISTELL: Bingham connections.

STURGILL: And he -- oh, big Bingham connections. And he thought those connections would elect him to most anything, as they did mayor of Louisville.

BIRDWHISTELL: Big difference running for mayor of Louisville and running for governor of Kentucky.


BIRDWHISTELL: Big difference. Well, it saved you some money. I mean it saved you a few million dollars.

STURGILL: It saved me some money and it saved me a lot of wear and tear.

[Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And in the end it would have -- I don't lose easily.


BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Doesn't surprise me. [Both chuckling]

STURGILL: And it would have -- I got real encouragement from only two people of any prominence. Ford encouraged me.


STURGILL: But that was because of friendship. He knew I couldn't -- I guess he did, he never did tell me. And Brown encouraged me.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Wow. So when -- I guess at some point during that campaign you all realized Harvey Sloane might not win that campaign. And there you and Bert Combs and Bill May are on the wrong horse. How do you deal with that?


STURGILL: Well, you assess what cards there is to play. [Both chuckling] That was an interesting time. Who was the Republican nominee?


STURGILL: Well, I can't remember. But Louie was governor in --

BIRDWHISTELL: Sixty-seven to `71.

STURGILL: He was governor before John.


BIRDWHISTELL: [Robert] Gable ran in `75.

STURGILL: The guy that's on the Public Service Commission ran.


STURGILL: Yeah, what was his name? Tom --

BIRDWHISTELL: Tom Emberton ran --

STURGILL: Emberton.

BIRDWHISTELL: -- Tom Emberton ran in `71. I should know who ran in `83, but I sure can't think of it right now.

STURGILL: I can't either.


STURGILL: We'll probably get there. This is `76 -- Louie Nunn was an interesting character.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Louie Nunn got sideways with your friend John Y. Brown --


BIRDWHISTELL: -- later on in the senate race -- or I mean, later on in the 00:58:00gubernatorial race.

STURGILL: But the racing commission, I think, is doing a good job for Kentucky, doing a good job for racing.


STURGILL: It's got some horsemen on it now that doesn't -- well, I don't know who runs it day to day, but I think it's in good hands.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm. What's the biggest race one of your horse's ever won?

STURGILL: It was a race in Louisville. Beat Warner Jones's horse.


STURGILL: Yeah. [Both chuckling] But I don't remember what the name of it was.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, I probably should know this. Have you ever had a horse in the Derby?

STURGILL: No. We've never had a horse of that quality. [Both chuckling]


BIRDWHISTELL: Have you never aspired to have a horse in the Derby?

STURGILL: At one time. But I don't have that aspiration now.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. Because it takes a lot of money and a lot of luck, doesn't it?

STURGILL: Yeah, both.

BIRDWHISTELL: Both. You've got to have both at the same time. It's kind of like winning the NCAA basketball tournament; you have to have a really good team and a lot of luck, all at once.

STURGILL: And know how the ball's going to bounce.


STURGILL: The same way about the Derby. I think -- I just think the Derby brings a lot of prestige, a lot of atmosphere, a lot of good things to Kentucky worldwide.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. Umhmm. It's all positive.

STURGILL: It's all positive.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. I want to go back to this 1983 -- picking the wrong horse 01:00:00in the primary put you in an awkward situation with Martha Layne Collins, who eventually wins. And for all of the busyness that you experience in your life during the Brown administration with energy, ag[riculture], racing commission, University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, and being on the inside of a gubernatorial administration, plus all your business interests, when Martha Layne Collins becomes governor, about half of that falls off, right?


BIRDWHISTELL: All that public service part goes away. How do you handle that?

STURGILL: Well, Martha Layne asked me if I'd stay on as secretary of energy --


BIRDWHISTELL: She did? STURGILL: -- for a short time. And the time wasn't identified.


STURGILL: And so when I was secretary of energy, I was leaning on Ford to get me reappointed to the board of trustees. And Singletary had said that he wanted me to stay there during the rest of his term.

BIRDWHISTELL: Umhmm. So you thought that Senator Ford, because of his relationship with Governor Collins --

STURGILL: Would --

BIRDWHISTELL: -- could overcome the previous --

STURGILL: I -- my sister and Martha Layne were pretty close friends.



STURGILL: And, of course, my sister died. And I was the only one in the Brown administration that really paid any attention to Martha Layne. I made sure --

BIRDWHISTELL: While she was lieutenant governor?

STURGILL: Yes. I made sure she knew when we were having a cabinet meeting. Oftentimes I went to her office that day and told her about the meeting, told her we'd like for her to come.


STURGILL: She never attended a one.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's kind of surprising, isn't it?

STURGILL: And I felt like we had a pretty good relationship. But I walked into a board meeting at the bank and Walt Hillenmeyer said, "We've been thinking 01:03:00about putting Sister Moloney -- ." - the sister that ran St. Joe Hospital, what was her name? Ms-- .

BIRDWHISTELL: I'm not going to be able to think of it. I know who you're talking about.

STURGILL: Moloney's not right. It's --

BIRDWHISTELL: I don't think so.

STURGILL: -- it's something like that.


STURGILL: And said, "As a member of the executive committee," said, "what do you think about it?" "Well," I said, "I think the place for a woman is home, having beans and canning babi--- canning beans and having babies."

BIRDWHISTELL: You said that? [Chuckle]

STURGILL: Well, I didn't realize that Walt would tell it.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Ooh.

STURGILL: What was her name? And she'd always been a big fan of mine.


STURGILL: Well, she came to the next meeting. She always sat in a seat right in front of me. And I noticed her down on the front row. She never said very 01:04:00much to me after that. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] So I asked Walt one day. He said, "Yeah, I told it to her jestingly." And she told Martha Layne.


STURGILL: So, end of story. [Both chuckling] So I went to see Martha Layne, saw her in that little office behind the governor's office that I'd fixed up. And she said, "Well, Bill, you know, the vacancy's up." And she said, "Several people have approached me about that. But certainly you have done enough for the university that I would have to give it top consideration."

BIRDWHISTELL: That must have made you feel pretty good.

STURGILL: Well, I called Senator Ford. I said -- told him the conversation, I 01:05:00believe -- I said, "I think a little nudge from you -- ." Well, she didn't reappoint me, she appointed --


STURGILL: -- Cap Hershey. And so I told her that I was going to leave the secre--- well, she and George didn't -- she appointed -- she told me she was going to appoint George.


STURGILL: Evans. And I said, "Well, I think it's a mistake, but it's your appointment."

BIRDWHISTELL: Who was George Evans?

STURGILL: He was in the coal business.

BIRDWHISTELL: You knew him fairly well?

STURGILL: Oh, I knew him well.

BIRDWHISTELL: Why'd you think it would be a mistake to appoint him energy secretary?

STURGILL: Well, all he was going to try to do is undo what I'd done.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] One reason you would think that was a mis---

STURGILL: He didn't like me, and he didn't like Otis. And he took the energy program and took it to Louisville, you remember.


BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, I want to ask you about that. I want to get to that.

STURGILL: Well, that's where it started right there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right there. Right there. So how did you find out you weren't reappointed to the UK board?

STURGILL: Read it in the paper.


STURGILL: And I told her [chuckle] -- I ran into her after a ballgame. I had to go to one of those things where they auction the ball off --


STURGILL: -- after a game. And she was going up the escalator in front of me. I took a couple of steps and put my arm around her. I said, "Martha Layne, as best I know and to my knowledge, every person that's has been involved as an appointee or one departing from the board always gets a call from a governor. I read my appointment in the paper. And in my opinion, this shows a lot of -- a 01:07:00lack of class or a lack of guts."

BIRDWHISTELL: Take your pick.

STURGILL: "And maybe both."

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Well. And she said to you?

STURGILL: She didn't say anything. Just got off and walked.

BIRDWHISTELL: You were mad, weren't you?

STURGILL: No, I wasn't mad then. My mad spell -- I was mad the day that I read it, for that reason.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Shouldn't -- I mean, after your service on that board, you shouldn't have to read that in the paper.

STURGILL: Well, of course not. We were on that Louisville boat at the Derby that next year. And Otis and I were together, and Otis -- we came up to Martha Layne and we chatted with her. And what -- he told her that he wished I had 01:08:00stayed there until he could complete his term.

BIRDWHISTELL: That didn't get him off on a very good start with Martha Layne Collins either, did it?

STURGILL: No, and he -- I don't know how he and Martha Layne got along. Not well.


STURGILL: Well, I do know, too. He didn't get along well with her at all.


STURGILL: They moved that energy department to Louisville. That was George's doing, that wasn't anything Martha Layne had to do.

BIRDWHISTELL: I had that here somewhere. You knew Cap Hershey.

STURGILL: Oh, yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: What did you know about him?

STURGILL: I knew who he was. I didn't know what he was about. I knew he was 01:09:00in the horse business. But I didn't know -- I -- he was with Bill Collins all the time.

BIRDWHISTELL: That was his connection, wasn't it, to them?

STURGILL: Yeah. But I -- as far as did I know anything about him, no.

BIRDWHISTELL: I wonder whose service on the board will stack up the best, yours or Cap Herhsey's. [Both chuckling] I don't know. I may have that letter -- I'll look and see -- that I got from that boy who was president of student government when I came on the board.

BIRDWHISTELL: Scott Wendelsdorf.

STURGILL: Wendelsdorf. And he called me an environmental war criminal.



STURGILL: And I walked up to him and introduced myself. I said, "I'm Bill Sturgill. Did you ever see me before?" He said, "No, sir." I said, "Well, after you get to know me, I want you to give me an opinion." And I walked off. Well, he didn't stay on the board about two years -- he went to Louisville and became a city prosecutor, I think.

BIRDWHISTELL: Something like that.

STURGILL: And he wrote me a letter.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did he? What did he say?

STURGILL: And he said -- complimented me on what I was doing for the university, and said, "Maybe I was wrong." But he never did apologize, as I remember.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Well, that's a pretty good effort.

STURGILL: And I answered him.


STURGILL: I thanked him.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. I hope you still have that.

STURGILL: I've got his letter. I don't know where I have mine. It may -- 01:11:00probably down in the -- we've got a big storage room downstairs.

BIRDWHISTELL: We need to talk sometime about your papers, your collection. It'd be nice to preserve that at UK.

STURGILL: Terry, I -- all my in--- I've got a lot of records, but they're all underground down here where we've got a storage room.


STURGILL: And I don't know that any of us want to take the task of going down there to see about them.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, we'd do it for you if you ever decide -- what I'm interested in --

STURGILL: No, I wouldn't -- you say you'd do it for me?

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. What I'm saying is, we'd be happy --

STURGILL: But because of the -- where this storage room is, it's not as safe as other parts of the mines.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, I see. I see.


STURGILL: And I'd have to go see where the roof's protected and --


STURGILL: -- and I haven't been down there in two years.



BIRDWHISTELL: Well, we'd just be -- I don't know if I've even mentioned this to you before, but you know, the materials that you have that relate to your public service and your career, you know, I'm not talking about financial records or business records.

STURGILL: Oh, I know.

BIRDWHISTELL: But just the things that will help document, like we're doing with the oral history. But if there are letters and materials, it would be wonderful to have the William B. Sturgill Collection at UK, in with a lot of the other public policy collections that we have. So that's just something to think about.

STURGILL: They wouldn't be [chuckle] a portfolio like there was for a public official.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, no, because they have all that other stuff. But when you distill down a public official's papers, it gets down to a much smaller 01:13:00collection that researchers actually use. You know what I'm saying. There's a lot of correspondence, but then there's real correspondence and stuff. So it's just something to think about. We'd be --

STURGILL: Well, let me think about it. I might --

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, we'd be proud to have them. And, you know, I think anything we can do that documents your public service is important, because it's a lifetime of public service. We ended up the last interview session just sort of going through a -- I said, "Sometime we're just going to have to list all these things." I mean just -- I don't know if you remember it, but we ended the last interview with me just listing all the things you'd done for UK. And that's a -- I mean, for one person to have done that, it's quite a list. So --

STURGILL: Yeah. And [Lee T.] Todd reappointed me to the athletic board the other day. [Chuckle]

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, good. You thought he might. So that's good.

STURGILL: He met me at a ballgame and --

BIRDWHISTELL: You all meet Friday, don't you?

STURGILL: Yeah, but I think -- he's going to raise ticket prices.



STURGILL: He let [Mitch] Barnhart talk him into it, and they haven't done their homework. And I'm inclined to call Lee and tell him I think he ought to entertain a motion to table that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Well, it's Wednesday, so it's -- the clock's ticking. [Chuckle]

STURGILL: Well, he -- [Jack] Blanton was chairman of it.


STURGILL: And I called Blanton yesterday afternoon. He hasn't returned my call.

BIRDWHISTELL: He doesn't want to talk. [Chuckle] He probably has an idea of what you're going to tell him. [Chuckle]

STURGILL: Well, Blanton, you know, he was so on the outs over there with Charlie.


STURGILL: Then to be on the in and chairman of the increase in ticket prices, when he's been so negative about it --

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Oh, that's funny. That's funny.


STURGILL: And there's no need for it.


STURGILL: Assistant football coaches making $200,000 in a state where the per capita income is just over twenty? What are you talking about?

BIRDWHISTELL: Means I should have gotten in another profession. [Chuckle]

STURGILL: And what's the median income for faculty members, 120?

BIRDWHISTELL: No, the median for a full professor would be, like, eighty, and for associate professor, sixty, and for an assistant professor, probably forty, overall. You know, that -- you get into the business, engineering, law, they're up here. But there's a lot of lower-end faculty positions. So the median -- so that gives you some perspective on --

STURGILL: I just figured if you took the high end and the low end, it was 01:16:00$120,000. Would it get there?


STURGILL: Well, that's another reason for my argument.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Now, if you want to base coaches' salaries on faculty salaries, that's a -- there's going to be a -- but I think your point is that, obviously, the head coaches have been making a lot of money for a long time through endorsements and all that stuff, but now this issue of the assistant coaches is really a big issue.

STURGILL: We've got a fourteen percent reduction in state appropriations, we increase tuition fourteen percent.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's tough.

STURGILL: I don't see how he can justify it.

BIRDWHISTELL: I don't know.

STURGILL: I don't know where his annual giving -- I haven't asked Terry 01:17:00[Mobley], but I don't think his annual giving -- he's got to raise eight million dollars to complete the Administration Building.

BIRDWHISTELL: And he's got to raise money to support those new scholarships for the Governor's Scholars.

STURGILL: Well, that's where the -- this money on ticket prices, he's proposing some of that to --


STURGILL: And what else has Terry -- because Terry's got -- of course, he's got that money we started the UK Foundation?


STURGILL: Charlie Wethington wanted the job of running it. And Warren Rosenthal -- I'll give him credit -- he -- I said, "I'm not going to let that happen." He said, "I'll join you." So Terry said, "If you feel that way, we'll stop raising money until after he leaves." And I think he'd got $300,000 or 01:18:00$400,000. So I told Terry he ought to put it in those scholarships.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. That's a good idea.

STURGILL: And now he thinks he's going to have to use it -- he's got eight million dollars he's got to raise to finish the Administration Building.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's going to be a tough one. That's a tough one.

STURGILL: And he's got naming opportunities for everything but the bathroom.

BIRDWHISTELL: [Chuckle] Well, the problem is we're all trying to raise money, everybody out there.

STURGILL: Yeah. The law school's trying to raise money, and Dick Furst is always raising money.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, it's -- that's the nature of the business right now.

STURGILL: Well -- and the economy, what's the economy off in Kentucky?

BIRDWHISTELL: I'm not sure. I just see those figures about what the state 01:19:00revenue is down, you know. But that's --

STURGILL: Four hundred million dollar shortfall in revenue?

BIRDWHISTELL: Something like that. Yeah.

STURGILL: Well, I know that -- and the employment rates at the end of the first quarter were fourteen-something --


STURGILL: -- in Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: You know, what's interesting about all that is to think where we would be if you and Dr. Singletary hadn't gotten this development thing going. I mean it's hard to imagine where the university would be without that. And I know in your case, you know, the money for the development building itself, for the scholarships and all the things that, you know, you were -- chaired the development council, and made all that happen. I mean that -- if we didn't have that foundation to build on, we'd be in real big trouble.

STURGILL: Yeah, because the state appropriation, when I got -- when I came on 01:20:00the board, Terry, we had a budget of $732 million. This last year, the budget was $1,200,000,000.


STURGILL: The state appropriation to UK, the -- in `74 was 52 percent of the budget. Last year it was about 23 percent or less.


STURGILL: And I actually don't know the number.

BIRDWHISTELL: And falling.

STURGILL: And falling. Going to fall by fourteen percent.

BIRDWHISTELL: And makes it hard to operate. Let me ask you about this issue 01:21:00with George Evans. Governor Collins says she's going to appoint him energy secretary, you tell her that's a bad idea, and it wasn't a year to eighteen months later that that appointment starts to cause UK a bunch of problems, right? And it all had to do with the contract to run the Kentucky Center for Energy Research Laboratory out on Ironworks Pike. And I remember that very vividly. I read everything about it. It intrigued me. I've reread it all again, and I still don't quite understand. Maybe I'm dense. What was going on there? You know, what was -- what really caused that controversy?

STURGILL: Well, I don't know the cause. He just had a dislike for Otis and me.



STURGILL: I never did anything to him. I don't think Otis ever did.

BIRDWHISTELL: But -- okay, so he didn't like you guys.

STURGILL: He didn't like us. He -- and I don't know what kind of seats at his football game he had. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] George and I had a difference when we were in the coal business --


STURGILL: -- that was a staying difference. But I didn't let it carry over into my personal life in any way. We both were still living in the mountains.


STURGILL: And it showed up again when I tried to -- made a tender offer for the Bank of Lexington.


STURGILL: He had a stake in it that Bert Combs gave him. Bert Combs offered me 01:23:00a stake in it, and I didn't -- I turned it down. Then I wanted to buy it all. And he made a deal with the group of people that I couldn't get the majority, so he offered me -- and George himself came, and he offered me, he said, "You come and help us at this bank, and I'll make you chairman of the board." He was chairman. I said, "No, thank you." And I got my money and left. And what is his and Otis's problem, or was, I don't know. George and I had a big problem about the coal business once.


STURGILL: And he had the property to keep me from building a coal tipple --



STURGILL: -- over on the C&O. And the coal property was -- the coal was for the second unit at Louisa, for American Electric Power. And Mr. Sporn was running things for American Electric Power, and he -- Mr. Sporn didn't have any committees. He had [inaudible], he called them. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And when they wouldn't let me build a tipple, knowing where the coal was going to go, because they owned a little stretch of land and -- about three acres.


STURGILL: And Greg Devine was in on it, and Greg was president of the C&O. And 01:25:00Mr. Sporn asked me to meet him at Greg's office the next day, after George and I -- after George said no. And we went to see Greg. Mr. Sporn talked to him. I mean he talked to him pretty tough. And I said, "By God, Greg will think that I -- I'll never get over this." [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] "I'll be on his blacklist."

BIRDWHISTELL: Never get off of it.

STURGILL: Yeah. And, well, I never did. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] And he said, "Well -- ." I remember, he said, "If George told Bill what it would take to get that tipple built, that's what he meant."


STURGILL: And Mr. Sporn said to him, "You're in on it."


STURGILL: I said, "Let me get out of here." [Both chuckling] "Get to my 01:26:00airplane and go back to Hazard." Man, that was tough. That was tough talking to the president -- the chairman of the board of C&O Railroad.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. That's something.

STURGILL: But I never got the tipple built. I didn't get Mr. Sporn's business -- I mean I got other business, but not there.


STURGILL: And the freight rate on the L&N just wouldn't let me get there.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow. Wow. So that's -- it goes back that far.

STURGILL: And that's the only -- and I don't -- we were in the back of the commissary building. It wasn't -- it was George's office at [Glow?], Kentucky.


STURGILL: And late one afternoon -- and when George -- I just knew that we 01:27:00could work it out.


STURGILL: And when he told me that, why, it damn near shell-shocked me.


STURGILL: I said, "Well, do you need to think about this?" Said, "Nope." Mouthed that cigar. [Chuckle--Birdwhistell] Got --

BIRDWHISTELL: Don't need to think about it.

STURGILL: Yeah. Don't need to think about it.


STURGILL: I said, "Well, I guess I'd better go, George." I got up and left, and I got to Hindman and called Mr. Sporn.


STURGILL: And Mr. Sporn, "Are you sure?" "Yeah, I'm positive." Said, "You meet me in Greg Devine's office in the morning." I said, "If the weather's clear, I'll be there, Mr. Sporn. If it's not, why, I'll call you." I liked Mr. Sporn.


STURGILL: And he said -- he put up half the money to build that energy center 01:28:00building, the old Spindletop building.


STURGILL: American Electric Power did.

BIRDWHISTELL: I didn't know that. Hmm.

STURGILL: And, man, that was a tough business. [Chuckle]

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow. Well, we're about out of tape and about out of time for today. We'll pick up there next time, if that's okay.

STURGILL: That's fine. I just hope I'm -- we've kind of rattled this morning.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, it's -- it all ties together. It all ties together.

[End of Interview]