Kentucky basketball forward Keion Brooks Jr. said he backs a push by Black faculty members in the school's African American and Africana Studies department to change the name of Rupp Arena. The group recently requested the change, saying Adolph Rupp's legacy is tied to a history of racism and discrimination.
Brooks, a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Player Development Coalition, averaged 4.5 PPG last season. He said he's still gathering more information about Rupp but stated that he supports a name change.
"Being honest, I haven't educated myself well enough on Adolph Rupp or just the whole situation at hand to really give you my thoughts on it," said Brooks, who is also a member of the SEC Council on Racial Equality and Social Justice. "From what I do know, I would like to see a name change just basically because of what his name is and what that's connected to and what that kind of represents. I would like to see a name change."
In June, the group of Black faculty members at Kentucky listed their request about Rupp Arena's name as part of a comprehensive set of action items submitted to the university's leadership. Per the letter, Rupp's name has "come to stand for racism and exclusion in [Kentucky] athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees."
In an exclusive statement to ESPN on Friday, the same group of Black faculty members commended Brooks and called him a key leader. The group has also asked John Calipari and his team to meet with it to discuss the arena's name.
"The faculty of the African American [and] Africana Studies Program and the Commonwealth Institute of Black Studies offer our support to Keion Brooks, Jr.," the statement said. "He courageously supported our call to change the name of Rupp Arena. Mr. Brooks has made this stand knowing full well the vitriol he will face from a segment of University of Kentucky sports fans. Mr. Brooks is already a leader on these issues as a member of the [SEC Council on Racial Equality and Social Justice]. We welcome Mr. Brooks, his teammates, Coach Calipari, and his staff to meet with us to educate him and others further about why Rupp's name should be removed from the arena. Finally, we encourage Mr. Brooks, student-athletes, and students interested in these issues to consider enrolling in our Race and Sports class in Spring 2021."