Almost a week ago, news leaked that the UK basketball museum was closing due to a large debt it couldn’t overcome.
The museum wasn’t part of the University, but UK did donate up to $100,000 a year to help the museum out. Before closing, the museum was housed in the Lexington Center, which connects to Rupp Arena. Now, the museum is closed, the exhibits and donated items are being returned and UK athletics is saying they will somehow create something in the Joe Craft Center, although nothing like museum. No final word on what the new creation will be.
And then I went and read Jerry Tipton’s basketball notebook that the Herald-Leader publishes every Sunday. In the notebook, Tipton talks about what he thinks UK will do to honor the late Mr. Wildcat, Bill Keightley. Tipton says that UK hasn’t decided what to yet, but Tipton suggests making the “K” on the jerseys black, or placing a big “K” on the court in front of Keightley’s chair.
Of course, a lot of people are saying they should leave that chair empty. And that’s a good idea, as are Tipton’s. But here’s a better one: Create a smaller, more interactive UK basketball museum in the Joe Craft Center. Then name it after Bill Keightley.
In essence, The Bill Keightley UK Basketball Museum.
The museum could have a huge exhibit around the man who has seen more UK basketball games than anyone else. It could be the feature exhibit and surely would gather a crowd to see it.
Of course, the new museum in the Craft Center would have be to be interactive, but anyone who has stepped foot in the Craft Center knows technology isn’t new to the building. Naming the museum after Keightley and making him the centerpiece of a new venture would be a fitting tribute and a good way to preserve the great tradition of UK basketball. Then, all the other exhibits that made up the UK basketball museum could be updated, made interactive and placed around the Keightley exhibit.
If the Craft Center doesn’t have enough room, build another floor. Or move the exhibits around Memorial Coliseum as part of a tour of both the Coliseum, the Craft Center and the Museum. There are ways to make this happen. And if donors know that the new museum will be in Keightley’s honor, that may help sideline any costs.
Coaches have come and gone, leaving their mark. While most think Adolph Rupp and UK Basketball, true fans put Bill Keightley right beside Mr. Rupp. Rupp has the arena named after him. Let’s give Mr. Wildcat the building where all of the UK basketball history will reside.
I can think of no more fitting a tribute.