When Kentucky stopped Missouri 90-83 in overtime in last Saturday night’s ESPN College GameDay showdown, UK graduate Dr. Brady Deaton wasn’t exactly the happiest person among one of the loudest basketball crowds ever in Rupp Arena history.
That’s because his school, University of Missouri, couldn’t beat the Wildcats and the Laurel County native runs the public research university in Columbia as the Chancellor of the 35,000-student institution.
Even though Dr. Deaton grew up on a Laurel County farm and followed coach Adolph Rupp’s Wildcats on the radio during the late 1940s and 1950s, he really had mixed emotions that night and wanted the Tigers — who joined the SEC in 2012 as a new member along with the Aggies from Texas A&M — to come out on top.
Still, it was a very nice visit to Kentucky for him and his wife, Anne, who is also a UK graduate and has a doctorate in education.
“Having worked so hard to achieve athletic and academic excellence at Missouri, I really wanted Mizzou to prevail,” Dr. Deaton wrote in an e-mail. “Of course, if you are going to lose, who better to lose to than Kentucky and your alma mater?
“Certainly, we went into the game with high expectations. The atmosphere was electric. We sought out as many Mizzou Tiger fans as possible to greet before the game and felt very welcomed by the Wildcats fans we personally met. The game was hard-fought by two terrific and very competitive teams. We all expected the best — a very high standard.
“So I knew how much fans were behind the Wildcats, including my brothers and sisters from London, Ky., where I grew up. I’m from a family of nine, and two brothers, Don and Ron, and their spouses attended the game with us. That was a real treat.”
While he and his wife have often returned to UK and walked down memory lane on the campus, Dr. Deaton commented that the thrilling matchup this past weekend “was our first time to be in Rupp Arena. It was especially exciting for me as I grew up listening on the radio to the UK games.” The Deatons — who are lifetime members of the UK Alumni Association — also were hosted for a pre-game dinner by UK President Dr. Eli Capilouto and his wife, Dr. Mary Lynne Capilouto.
During the early days, Dr. Deaton and some of his siblings played on the football, baseball and track teams at the old London High School. As a 5-9, 160-pounder, he played guard on the football team and loved “every moment of it.”
Like many young Kentuckians, they also “played basketball even in the rain, snow and mud,” recalled Dr. Deaton.
The Chancellor also has fond memories of the Baron of Bluegrass.
“Adolph Rupp was such a legend and he recruited from all the high schools in Kentucky and spoke at London High School athletic banquet while I was a student there,” said Dr. Deaton. “And I spoke to him several times on campus as a student in the early 1960s. He often had coffee at the local student coffee shop near Memorial Coliseum. We couldn’t be bigger fans.”
Needless to say, the journey to Kentucky was a special homecoming in many ways for the Deatons.
“We had walked past Maxwell Place (the official residence of UK president) countless times during our years at UK,” said Dr. Deaton, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand for two years. “Had we been able to fast forward to the future then, we never would have imagined an evening in the President’s home so many years later celebrating the meeting of two great universities that President Capilouto and Mary Lynne, and Anne and I are privileged to serve. It couldn’t have been better unless, of course, we had won the game!”
As Missouri’s top academic administrator, Dr. Deaton’s record against the Cats is now 1-2 (in football and men’s/women’s basketball) after the Tigers became a SEC member. And, not surprisingly, Dr. Deaton — who was the former chair of Board of Directors for the Big 12 Conference — is anxious for a rematch with the Wildcats in various sports, including basketball.
“We look forward to second and third chances to come out as victors in many athletic efforts!” he said.
Jamie H. Vaught, a long-time sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is currently a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.