Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Billy Knight, February 5, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:02 - Position at University of Texas El Paso / Don Haskins

Play segment

Partial Transcript: It's Friday, February 5, 2016, and my name is Gerald Smith. I'm in El Paso, Texas and I'm interviewing, uh, Mr. Bill Knight.

Segment Synopsis: Knight shares that he has been a sports writer for the El Paso Times since 1979. He has written numerous stories on the 1966 Texas Western basketball team that won a national championship. Knight shares his thoughts on former head coach, Don Haskins, describing Haskins as "intensely competitive" and as having a great eye for the game. Haskins could spot when a player was out of place and would stop and start practice constantly to correct mistakes. Knight describes Haskins as a kind-hearted man, telling a story of when Haskins would take gifts to a small village in Mexico.

Keywords: Basketball history; Basketball stories; Coaching styles; El Paso Times; Hall of Fame; News stories; Practices; Sports writers; Stories; Texas Western College; Texas Western Miners men's basketball team; University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)

Subjects: Basketball--Coaching; Basketball--History; Coaches (Athletics); Newspapers; Sportswriters; Texas Western Miners (Basketball Team); UTEP Miners (Basketball Team); Writers

00:02:00 - Adolph Rupp's legacy

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, um, what do you know about, um--or heard, rather, about Coach Adolph Rupp?

Segment Synopsis: Knight recalls watching the 1966 basketball game between the Texas Western Miners and the University of Kentucky Wildcats. At that time, Knight was playing college basketball in Dallas, Texas and had limited knowledge of Texas Western. Knight knew a few players on the University of Kentucky's team, describing Coach Adolph Rupp as one of the most successful coaches ever. Knight did not find any merit in allegations of Coach Rupp's racism, attributing those rumors as movie fiction. Knight describes the 1960s as a volatile time, filled with racial tension.

Keywords: Adolph Rupp; Coach Rupp; Coaching records; Coaching success; Louie Dampier; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Pat Riley; Racial tension; White athletes; Winning records

Subjects: African American Athletes; Basketball coaches--Kentucky; Basketball players; Basketball--Coaching; Basketball--History; Basketball--Tournaments; Coaches (Athletics); Dallas (Tex.); Legacy; Racism; Racism in sports; Rupp, Adolph, 1901-1977

00:03:34 - Fondest memories of the team

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, um, what are your fondest memories of this team that's being commemorated?

Segment Synopsis: Knight recalls his fondest memories of the 1966 Texas Western Miners basketball team. He highlights the fact that each of the players are nice, genuine people that did well in life. Knight mentions he is glad they are being honored in life when they are able to really appreciate the impact they have had. Knight shares some of his interactions with the players, describing Bobby Joe Hill as charismatic.

Keywords: Basketball championships; Basketball teams; Bobby Joe Hill; Championships; Commemorations; David Lattin; Genuine; Humble; Motivational speakers; NCAA Champions; Texas Western Miners; Willie Worsley

Subjects: African American athletes; African American basketball players; Basketball coaches; Basketball players; Basketball teams; Basketball--History; Families

00:05:18 - Legacy of the team

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What do you hope people remember?

Segment Synopsis: Knight hopes people will remember that different people were able to come together to achieve this goal. He speaks about the diversity of the team, noting that there were African American, white, and Hispanic players on the team. Knight cites this as one of the great lessons of sports, that skin color doesn't matter. Knight mentions that the players' only complaint with the movie "Glory Road" was that it was portrayed that there was tension amongst the team, when in reality the players got along from the beginning. Knight concludes with describing the team's legacy as one of inspiring cooperation.

Keywords: Cooperation; Inspirations; Lessons; Movies; NCAA Champions; National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Sports; Texas Western College; Texas Western Miners men's basketball team

Subjects: African American athletes; African American basketball players; Basketball players; Basketball teams; Basketball--History; Basketball--Tournaments; Legacy; University of Texas at El Paso