LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 4, 2013) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 38th of 150 weekly installments on the university explores the influence and accomplishments under the tenure of UK Athletics Director Bernie Shively.
Have you ever wondered why Euclid Avenue turns into the Avenue of Champions from Rose to Limestone Streets? In 1952, the name was changed after UK won the Cotton Bowl championship in Dallas, Texas. UK alumnus T. Jere Bean, of Louisville, suggested the name change to recognize the championship UK football and basketball teams. The Lexington Board of City Commissioners renamed the street under a suspension of rules and Mayor Tom Mooney presided at the official hanging of the sign.
During this time Bernie A. Shively was director of UK Athletics. Shively came to the university in 1927 as an assistant football and head track coach. He served as athletics director from 1938 until his death in December 1967.
UK's athletics program grew substantially under the direction of Shively. He directly supervised doubling the seating capacity of the football stadium, the construction of a sports center to provide top facilities for spring sports and football practice, and moving the basketball team into Memorial Coliseum, which at the time was considered the finest collegiate basketball arena in the nation upon its completion in 1951.
Shively played a key role in bringing Paul "Bear" Bryant to UK as football coach in 1946, and was critical in promoting harmony between Coach Bryant and Coach Adolph Rupp. During the Bryant and Rupp years, the Wildcats won four NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), one NIT (National Invitation Tournament), three bowl and 19 SEC (Southeastern Conference) championships. They also won the collegiate bracket of the Olympic trials, sending five basketball players and Rupp to gold medal victories in the 1948 Olympics.
The Shively Training Facility is named for the former athletic director. Considered the foundation of UK’s weightlifting and training, the facility features two spacious weight rooms, multiple training rooms, locker rooms, state-of-the-art team meeting areas, player lounges and supports facilities for the majority of the university’s 22 varsity sports.
This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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