Kentucky Basketball Buys Itself A Lump Of Trouble

A group of donors has offered to put up $7 million to construct new living quarters for the Kentucky basketball team, but there’s one catch. The new place has to have the word “coal” in its middle name. I’d change my middle name to Coal for 7 mil, but when we’re talking about a university building, and an issue as politically sensitive as coal production (*cough*), things get complicated.

Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge

Everyone’s weighing in on this one: Faculty, students, mining engineers, former Kentucky head coach Joe B. Hall (for whom the current facility is named), politicians, environmentalists, and even MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Point of Irony: The proposed new facility with coal in the title will be a “green” building.

Kentucky’s Board of Trustees meets today to decide whether to accept $7 million from a group of private donors to build what would be called Wildcat Coal Lodge. The group of donors is spearheaded by Joseph W. Craft III, who heads Alliance Coal. Craft wont donate the money unless his group gets to name the facility.

Wait, doesn’t “wildcat coal” mean illegally mined coal? Anyway ..

The Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge, which opened in 1978, is named for the former head basketball coach who had the job from 1972 to 1985 and who won a national championship in 1978. It originally housed only student-athletes, but other students were added after the NCAA objected.

Hall, who helped raise money for the lodge, has said that a significant amount of the money came from “those coal miners.”

On campus, students have started a petition opposing the name, and several faculty members have come out against it. Hall himself says he doesn’t mind. But radio stations and the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER are abuzz with the comments on the controversy.

Professor Ernest J. Yanarella, a political scientist who is a faculty representative on the board, said he has received many e-mails from other faculty members, all of them opposed to the name.

“The university has no business promoting an industry that is under environmental siege,” he said.

Sample comment on the LEXINGTON-LEADER story:

  • The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC shared this embarrassing story with the world last night. A “Green” dorm with Coal in its name. Ha Ha Ha. All we need now is a couple of cars on blocks and Mammy and Pappy Yocum smokin corncob pipes and drinkin moonshine on the front porch (oops, no smokin or drinkin on campus) and a potbelly stove fur them boys to keep warm (oops, potbelly stoves ain’t Green neither). Welcome to the 21st Century. — aspercat105310

Welcome to the House of Coal. Maybe the Kentucky rooting section can be renamed The Black Lung.

Never too late to teach our college students that money rules the world. Bow down to coal! Worship it at your local church or synagogue.