Adolph Frederick Rupp (September 2, 1901 – December 10, 1977) was one of the most successful coaches in the history of American college basketball. Rupp ranks third (behind Bobby Knight and Dean Smith), in total victories by a men's NCAA Division I college coach, winning 876 games in 41 years of coaching. He set a remarkable standard of excellence at Kentucky that exists to this day. Rupp is also second among all coaches in all-time winning percentage (.822), trailing only Clair Bee. Adolph F. Rupp was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on April 13, 1969.
Read more about Adolph Rupp, free from bigbluehistory.net. Rupp was born outside Halstead, Kansas to Mennonite German immigrants, the fourth of six children. He grew up on a 173-acre (0.70 km2) farm which his father (Heinrich) homesteaded. After his father's death in 1910, Rupp's oldest brother Otto took over farming responsibilities. As a youngster, Rupp worked on the farm and attended a school in a one-room school house in the country. He first became interested in the sport of basketball at the age of six years old when Halstead won the first of two consecutive Kansas state high school titles. According to interviews, he and his brothers stuffed rags into a gunnysack which his mother sewed up to use as a basketball on the family farm. Later, after growing to a sturdy 6-foot-2, Rupp was a star on his Halstead high school team, averaging over 19 points a game in both his junior and senior years. Rupp also served as team captain and unofficial coach.
After high school, Rupp attended the University of Kansas from 1919-1923. He worked part-time at the student Jayhawk Cafe to help pay his college expenses. He was a reserve on the basketball team under legendary coach Dr. Forrest "Phog" Allen from 1919 to 1923. Assisting Allen during that time was his former coach and inventor of the game of basketball, James Naismith, who Rupp also got to know well during his time in Lawrence.
In Rupp's junior and senior college seasons (1921-22 and 1922-23), Kansas (KU) had outstanding basketball squads. Later, both of these standout Kansas (KU) teams would be awarded the Helms National Championship, recognizing the Jayhawks as the top team in the nation during those seasons.
University of Kentucky
Rupp coached the University of Kentucky men's basketball team from 1930 to 1972. At Kentucky, he earned the titles "Baron of the Bluegrass" and "The Man in the Brown Suit" (Rupp always wore a brown suit to games). Rupp was a master of motivation and strategy, often using local talent to build his teams. In fact, throughout his career, more than 80% of Rupp's players came from the state of Kentucky. He promoted a sticky man-to-man defense, a fluid set offense, perfect individual fundamentals, and a relentless fast break that battered opponents into defeat. Rupp demanded 100% effort from his players at all times, pushing them to great levels of success.
His Wildcat teams won 4 NCAA championships (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958), one NIT title in 1946 (when the NIT was a tournament equal in prestige to the NCAA tournament), appeared in 20 NCAA tournaments, had 6 NCAA Final Four appearances, won 5 Sugar Bowl tournament championships, captured 27 Southeastern Conference regular season titles, and won 13 Southeastern Conference tournaments. Rupp's Kentucky teams also finished ranked #1 on 6 occasions in the final Associated Press college basketball poll and 4 times in the United Press International (Coaches) poll. In addition, Rupp's legendary 1966 Kentucky squad (nicknamed "Rupp's Runts") finished second in the NCAA tournament, and his powerful 1947 Wildcats finished second in the NIT. Further, his 1933 and 1954 Kentucky squads were awarded the Helms National Championship.
Rupp was forced into retirement in March of 1972 after reaching the age of 70, which at the time was the mandatory retirement age for all University of Kentucky employees. He was a 4-time National Coach-of-the-Year award winner.