Louisville men’s basketball great Butch Beard talks with university president about race, hires after name removal request

Butch Beard, one of the greatest players in Louisville basketball history, said he had a “nice” conversation with university president Neeli Bendapudi on Thursday after asking the school this week to strip his name from its records, citing concerns about the athletic department’s hiring practices and its failure to acknowledge former Black players.

“I think there were a number of issues that were brought up that she’s more aware of now than she was,” Beard said.

However, Beard said he still wants his name removed “until I see change.”

In a letter to Bendapudi on Wednesday, the former Louisville standout and NBA All-Star and champion said the school needed more Black coaches to serve as role models for its student-athletes.

“The university has been remiss and negligent in its hiring practices within the athletic department,” Beard, a former college and NBA head coach, wrote in the letter obtained by ESPN. “No black role models exist for the student athletes playing men’s basketball or football. You may think assistant coaches in these sports are sufficient. They are not. Players need and want head coaches to confide in on real life issues on and off the court. Respect comes from the top: the head coach.

“I speak from the experience I have had as that role model at two HBCU schools. I saw first generation black kids attend college and witnessed the type of guidance that’s necessary. Not every black kid playing a sport has the promise or should have the promise of going professional. Many times this is the false narrative when the real goal should be getting an education. Without relatable guidance from a person who looks like you and has traveled this road, this imperative can be lost.”

Both Charlie Strong and Ron Cooper have been Black head coaches for Louisville’s football program. Chris Mack is the third head coach in the men’s basketball program since Denny Crum was hired in 1971. All three have been white.

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