Monday, May 8, 2017

Once Upon A Time In Lexington

Long, long go. Times were bad. In fact it was the Great Depression of the 30s. Every section of Society felt it. Universities such as UK, were no exception.
Faculty were let go. Classes were cancelled. Maintenance was put off. Fees were raised.
It was a truly difficult time and some feared the Commonwealth’s Flagship School just might go under...others had in other states.
Ways were sought out of UK’s financial problems...appeals to alumni (suffering similarly); appeals to donors (ditto); sales of what could be sold (few buyers); and especially requests for aid from local businesses who had profited over the years from UK’s being in Lexington...but none came forward. No one knew when the Great Depression might end and so were unable or unwilling to help.
Athletic Director Barney Mitchell canvassed his friends and supporters over the years especially. The football program had a promising new coach; the basketball team was on the verge of greatness with an experienced winner—both and the nascent SEC were facing a bleak future.
When all seemed darkest, help arrived. A well known and long established local business secretly went to Mitchell with an offer. It was one of the few in Lexington that seemed Depression-proof. Mitchell hesitated, even though he knew UK students had long been customers of the business; even faculty and staff used its services. Some UK students even worked there. But...but should the University cross into new territory and the controversy it was certain to arouse?? No one else in the SEC had ever done this before. It was sure to cause a great outcry.
But, as things seemed to grow worse, the AD hesitated no longer. He talked with the President and they debated the wisdom of the move for hours. Finally both could see no other way out of the school’s financial problems. The President  directed the AD to announce this radical move.
Before a small gathering, 2 radio stations and both local papers, Mitchell stood before a lectern making his announcement:
“Stoll Field”, he said, “is to be return for a generous contribution which we direly need...for our students, for faculty and staff, and our future.”
“Hereafter, it will be known”...he paused, and slowly said "as Belle Brezing Field.”
(I'm just sayin' ...)

No comments:

Post a Comment