Tag Archives: Basketball

The Jump Ball

With March Madness now becalmed, here’s some Hilltopper basketball history to keep the pulse racing:

It was March 11, 1966. The Ohio Valley Conference Champion Hilltoppers entered the NCAA tournament with a 23-2 record and a stellar lineup that included Clem Haskins, Greg Smith, Dwight Smith, Wayne Chapman and Steve Cunningham.  After a lopsided 105-86 win over Loyola (Ill.), they moved on to the next round against All-American Cazzie Russell and the Big Ten Conference Champions, the University of Michigan Wolverines.

With 10 seconds to go and WKU leading 79-78, the referee called for a jump ball between Greg Smith and Cazzie Russell.  He then tossed the ball off center, directly over Russell’s head.  Russell did not jump, but Smith did, tipping the ball with his left hand to center Steve Cunningham.  Russell claimed that Smith “kind of belted me on the lip as he came up and held my shoulder.”  Smith only recalled coming down in the scramble and turning, which prompted a Michigan player to point and yell, “Referee, he’s pushing!”  The official called Smith for fouling Russell—the first foul on a jump ball that Hilltopper coach John Oldham had ever witnessed.

Russell sank his two free throws, giving Clem Haskins only a few seconds to salvage a victory for WKU with a sixteen-foot jumper.  He missed.  Michigan won the game, 80-79.

The Hilltoppers later maintained that film of the play actually showed Russell fouling Smith.  But the game was in the books.  Clem Haskins bitterly called the incident “the worst call in the history of basketball.”

The next night, the Hilltoppers took out their frustrations on Dayton University, 82-68, to take third place in the tournament.  Michigan took second, falling to the University of Kentucky, 84-77.

Search WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections through TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

January Out of the Box




Basketball program 12/12/1961 WKU vs Northwestern Louisiana University

BUWKY 1/1939 – college humor and poetry

Elevator 1/1914 – catch up with the classes of 1908-1913, read about basketball and the Training School 100 years ago

Gary Ransdell Reading File – collection inventory for presidential papers

Parking – WKU Archives records related to our favorite topic

Personnel File 1/1989 – lists new employees 25 years ago

Phi Alpha Theta – collection inventory for student organization papers

Rural Training School – building history, records and photos

Women’s Basketball – collection inventory of WKU Athletic records

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Filed under University Archives

“Here’s to Coach Arthur and the Victorious Basketball Girls!”

1915 WKU Hilltoppers

1915 Varsity Team*

The 2012-13 women’s basketball team is a roll. Led by Coach Michelle Clark-Heard—herself a former Lady Topper—they join a long line of great basketball teams here on the hill. But where did that tradition begin?

98 years ago, on this day in 1915, the women of Western Kentucky State Normal School played their very first game against another school. This team was an unusual group. In the fall of 1914, each literary society in the school organized a girls’ basketball team. That’s right—the athletes came from the literary set. They learned the rules, practiced diligently, and then played each other.

The Senior team handily won every game they played, but all of the teams came in for compliments in the school magazine, The Elevator. Even the Kit-Kats and the Loyals, who only won three games between them, were praised, “because they have improved so much since they began. They have nerve, courage and ‘that other thing’ that has strengthened them against the attacks of a stronger force.”

When their intermural season was over, a varsity team was chosen from the best players of all the society teams. They challenged Logan College in Russellville to a game for the first day of March, 1915. The Elevator reporters reveled in the game: “On that great and memorable day the chosen ten from the Western set forth to seek renown for our dear old Normal by completely vanquishing and utterly subduing the basketball Amazons of Logan College.” Vanquish, they did. The newly formed varsity team “played with all the vim and determination and ‘that other thing’ that Normalites are famous for,” and won the game, 12 to 8.

When that game ended, that was it. One game and the “season” was over. Regular games didn’t start again until 1921. However, the legacy of this plucky team was on-going. In fact, one of those winning varsity players, guard Josephine Cherry, became the coach of the 1921-22 team and supported the teams that followed.

The Elevator said at the time, “The whole school joins in congratulations to these valiant girls in whose hearts are ever burning the bright fire of zeal and interest in every phase of our athletic work.” 98 years later, we join them in congratulations and appreciation to the 1915 Women’s Basketball varsity team for laying down a lasting foundation.

To learn more about this team, check out the February and April Elevators.
Search our online catalog, KenCat or visit the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Library & Museum (Monday – Saturday, 9 – 4) for more information on women’s intramural basketball or any of the teams that have played since.

[*Photo Identification, first row, l-r: Zona Lee Searce, Mary Brown, Anna McClusky. Second row: Pearl Jordan, Josephine Cherry, Lucy Booth, Laura Phelps.  Third row: Coach J. L. Arthur, Mary Holton, Martha Holton, Louise Jordan.]

Blog post written by WKU Archives Assistant Katherine Chappell.

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Filed under University Archives

Jump Ball!

Six images and Ed Givens play by play of the WKU – University of Michigan 1966 NCAA game are now available online. Cazzie Russell & Greg Smith go for the ball and in the end the official calls a foul on Smith. With only 11 seconds remaining, Russell sinks both free throws to take Michigan to a heartbreaking 80-79 victory over the Hilltoppers.  Were you at the game?  Do you have a memory to share about it? 

These images and many others are available in WKU Archives and through KenCat

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Filed under Events, University Archives

Training School & College High Collection

Girls Basketball Team 1927

Girls Basketball Team 1927

Founded as a teachers college in 1906, WKU soon found the need to have a training school located on campus. The first was located in the old Southern Normal Training School building. Upon moving to the Hill, the training school was moved to the original Potter Hall. Lastly, in 1925 the training school and high school moved into its own building, currently known as the Science and Technology Building.

University Archives holds about 10 cubic feet of records from the training school and high school. These include class rolls, catalogs, scrapbooks, photographs, basketball scorebooks, event programs, curriculum guides and cookbooks.

These materials are available for researchers in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room, Monday to Saturday 9 to 4.  Check out KenCat  to see digitized photographs.  See also the new online exhibit in commemoration of the rededication of the Science & Technology Building.


Filed under Events, University Archives

E.A. Diddle

E.A. Diddle w/ SIAA trophy

E.A. Diddle w/ SIAA trophy

E.A. Diddle came to WKU in 1922 as athletic director.  He coached the football team through 1929 and the baseball team until 1957.  But as most people know, he came to fame waving a red towel while coaching the Hilltopper basketball team to a 759-302 career record.

A collection of records regarding Diddle has been created from a variety of sources including the Diddle family.  These records, housed in University Archives, include early athletic department correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks and interviews.

The finding aid for this collection is now available at http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_ua_fin_aid/7/. Images are available at KenCat.  Allied collections are also described in KenCat.

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Filed under People, University Archives

WKU’s Red Towel

Oldham's Red Towel Sketch

Oldham's Red Towel Sketch

The red towel tradition began in the 1940’s.  According to Chip Royal, an AP feature writer “A towel came flying down out of the air at Madison Square Garden and landed on a spectator’s head  — and another basketball fan met Ed Diddle, the colorful Western Kentucky State coach.”  Royal’s article was printed in the Daily News on February 14, 1943.  The towels continued to appear and disappear as the athletics and physical education departments swiped towels back and forth.  Diddle decided to dye the athletic department towels red to differentiate from the physical education supply. 

Crume's Red Towel Sketch

Crume's Red Towel

Through the years the towel tradition has grown.  Now few fans appear at a game without a red  towel.  In 1970, athletics director John Oldham drew a sketch of an arm waving a towel on the back of an envelope which he gave to Dr. Chuck Crume to develop into a logo.  These original drawings are now housed in the University Archives along with personal papers of Ed Diddle, John Oldham, Chuck Crume and others involved with the athletic program.

Check out Hilltopper Heritage and KenCat for additional information on these and other University Archives collections.


Filed under Events, University Archives

Hilltoppers in University Archives

Varsity Lettermen 1959

Varsity Lettermen 1959

WKU athletic records and photographs are a hot item in University Archives.  We answer many questions related to coaching staff, student athletes and teams throughout the year.  In order to facilitate research several series of records have been processed and detailed finding aids made available online.  These include two sets of photographs: 


Digitized images are available through KenCat (http://wku.pastperfect-online.com/35749cgi/mweb.exe?request=ks). 

Several athletic department office records have been processed. 


These last records are especially useful to anyone interested in the Hilltoppers as they consist of Media Guides for every major sport(http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_ua_fin_aid/55/), Student Biographical File 1979-2004 (http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_ua_fin_aid/54/) and Clipping File 1962-present (http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_ua_fin_aid/53/).

We are currently processing the Basketball Office records which consist of correspondence regarding schedules, tournaments and athletes and hope to have a finding aid posted in the near future. 

The University Archives also houses an extensive film, video and audio collection, the bulk of which is made up of athletic film.  The master list is available online at: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_ua_fin_aid/198/

If you have Hilltopper documents, photographs or memorabilia that don’t appear in the finding aids, please contact the University Archives at 270-745-4793 or via email at archives@wku.edu

Check out KenCat to get information on other University Archives collections:  http://wku.pastperfect-online.com/35749cgi/mweb.exe?request=ks


Filed under Events, New Stuff, University Archives