February 2, 1930 (age 94) Rockwood, Tennessee (
Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Men's Basketball
Charles Martin Newton (born February 2, 1930) is a retired American basketball player, coach and administrator. He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Contributor on October 13, 2000.
- College career
- Coaching career
- Transylvania University
- University of Alabama
- Vanderbilt University
- NCAA Rules Committee
- University of Kentucky
- USA Basketball
Born in Rockwood, Tennessee, Newton was a two-sport player at the University of Kentucky, playing both baseball and basketball. As a reserve guard/forward, he was part of the Wildcats' national championship team in 1951 under legendary coach Adolph Rupp, though Newton himself averaged only 1.2 points per game. As a pitcher he helped the Wildcats baseball team reach the NCAA tournament and, after college, signed a minor league baseball contract with a New York Yankees farm system. Newton finally gave up baseball after the births of his two daughters.
Newton's coaching career spanned 30 years and three institutions.
By 1956, Newton had landed his first basketball coaching job at Transylvania University (then Transylvania College) in Lexington, Kentucky on a recommendation by Rupp. Newton compiled a 169–137 record at Transylvania, leading them to the 1963 NAIA Tournament. While at Transylvania he recruited the school's first black player.
Newton was inducted into Transylvania's Pioneer Hall of Fame in 1992.
University of Alabama
In 1968, legendary football coach and athletic director Paul "Bear" Bryant, who had been the coach for the University of Kentucky's football team during Newton's playing days, called Rupp looking for someone to turn around the University of Alabama's basketball program. Rupp recommended Newton, who after twelve seasons at Transylvania, left Lexington for Tuscaloosa.
In twelve seasons at Alabama, Newton led the Crimson Tide to a record of 211–123. Under Newton the Crimson Tide became the only school besides the University of Kentucky to win three straight Southeastern Conference titles (1974, 1975, and 1976). Newton also guided Alabama to four NIT and two NCAA tournament berths, prompting the school to name a recruiting suite in his honor in 2006.
Just as he did at Transylvania, Newton recruited Alabama's first black player, Wendell Hudson, in 1969, integrating his second team in as many coaching stops.
After resigning from the University of Alabama in 1980 to become assistant commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, Newton had no intentions of coaching again until he was approached by Roy Kramer, the athletics director for Vanderbilt University. After only one year as assistant commissioner, Newton became coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores, leading them to a 129–115 mark in eight seasons and berths in the NCAA tournament in 1988 and 1989.
NCAA Rules Committee
From 1979 to 1985, Newton served as chair of the NCAA Rules Committee. During his tenure the NCAA adopted the shot clock, the three-point line, and the coaches' box. Newton was a member of the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee, overseeing the NCAA Tournament, from 1992 to 1999, including the last two years as chair of the group. In 1998, a survey done by the San Antonio Express-News proclaimed Newton "the most powerful man in college basketball." On March 16, 2015, former long-time commissioner of the Big East, Mike Tranghese, told Chris Russo on Sirius XM radio that Newton is the best chairman that ever served the NCAA.
University of Kentucky
In 1989, Newton's alma mater, the University of Kentucky, persuaded him to replace athletic director Cliff Hagan and help navigate the stormy waters of an NCAA probation. Newton's first move as AD was to hire then-New York Knicks coach Rick Pitino. The Wildcats bounced back from their probation with a core of mostly Kentucky-born players known affectionately to fans as "The Unforgettables." The group—consisting of Sean Woods, Deron Feldhaus, Richie Farmer and John Pelphrey—lost in overtime in the East Regional final of the NCAA tournament to the Duke Blue Devils in a game many consider the greatest college basketball game ever played.
Newton also hired Bernadette Mattox, the university's first black women's basketball coach in 1995. In 1997, he hired Orlando "Tubby" Smith, the university's first black men's basketball coach, to replace Pitino, who had accepted a head coaching job with the NBA's Boston Celtics.
On December 18, 1999, Newton was presented with the Annie Wittenmyer White Ribbon Award by the Women's Christian Temperance Union for refusing to allow alcohol advertising at university sporting events. Newton retired on June 30, 2000.
In 2000, the University of Kentucky officially named its football playing field at Commonwealth Stadium the "C. M. Newton Field". As part of the renaming of the stadium to "Kroger Field" in 2017, the field itself was renamed "C. M. Newton Grounds".
From 1992 to 1996, Newton served as the president of USA Basketball. It was on Newton's watch that the decision was made to allow professional basketball players to represent the United States in the Summer Olympics. This decision gave rise to the 1992 "Dream Team".