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The University of Kentucky is getting national media attention for playing in the national championship. But the campus also has a reputation for racial segregation and some of this past is ugly. A former superstar for the school, Rex Chapman, who played for the school in the late 1980s, says that one of the reasons he left the university early for the NBA is because the school officials were not comfortable with him dating black women.
This article was written a few years ago on ESPN.com, but in it, Chapman talks about his experience at Kentucky and why he left:
Former Kentucky star Rex Chapman told a newspaper that school officials tried to stop him from dating black women or at least “hide it” rather than inflame fans.
“There were certain aspects of my time there that were really ugly,” Chapman, who is white, said in a story published by The Courier-Journal on Monday. “I don’t know how it is today, but that’s how it was 20 years ago.”
Chapman said scrutiny of his private life by athletic department officials, boosters and others hastened his departure from Kentucky. He left after two seasons and entered the NBA draft in 1988.
Rex Chapman talked to ESPN.com Page 2 writer Jason Whitlock last week and discussed race and his time at Kentucky and in the NBA:
Chapman was particularly bothered by his belief that sports writers in Kentucky didn’t hype high school stars such as Derek Anderson and Allan Houston the way he was hyped as a prep. Chapman was known as the greatest high school player the state of Kentucky ever produced.
“I ended up going to [the University of] Kentucky, and on the one hand, I was the Great White Hope and had 24,000 people cheering for me every day and every night,” Chapman said. “Off the court, then I’d hear the whispers that I was a n—– lover. It was just asinine and ugly. That was part of the reason I left school early.”
Chapman dated a wide variety of women while he was at Kentucky, including black women. He said his color-blind dating habits were frowned upon by Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn, who selected Chapman with the eighth pick of the 1988 draft. Chapman said the first time he met Shinn, the owner had just one question – and it had nothing to do with the purpose of the meeting, which was to end Chapman’s weeklong rookie holdout for $25,000.
“He asked me if I ever dated black girls,” Chapman said. “I told him that I wasn’t right now, but that I probably would. My contract was done 20 minutes later. To this day, I believe he thought I might go to the press. [Shinn] started, ‘Well, I guess, what I’m saying, you know we live down here in the Bible Belt. I’m just saying be careful.’ ”
Once, someone took a key and scrawled a racial epithet on his car door, he said. He said he was also the subject of obscene jokes.
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