Featuring one of the towering figures in Southeastern Conference history, the latest chapter in ESPN Films’ SEC Storied series is “Courage Matters – The C. M. Newton Story.”
Premiering Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. ET on SEC Network, the film explores the story of Newton’s influence on the basketball world, a career spanning seven decades as an innovator and an advocate for the advancement of African-Americans in athletics. “Courage Matters – The C. M. Newton Story” is presented by Regions Bank.
Newton (pictured during his Alabama days) was the first head coach to integrate a team at the University of Alabama with Wendell Hudson in 1969, the first to start five black players in an SEC basketball lineup. In addition, as the athletic director at UK, his alma mater, he hired the school's first African-American men’s and women’s head coaches, Tubby Smith and Bernadette Mattox. Newton was also the first athletic director in the SEC to hire two different national championship-winning coaches in the same sport.
Ahead of his time as a coach and administrator, Newton helped bring college basketball to new heights with the addition of the shot clock and three-point shot as the chair of the NCAA Rules Committee. As head coach of “The Bomb Squad” at Vanderbilt, Newton utilized the new three-point rule and started a streak of consecutive Commodore games with a three-pointer that continues to this day, 999 games later. Additionally, Newton won three Olympic gold medals with USA Basketball, including one in 1984 as an assistant coach with a team of American collegians and another in 1992 as the president of USA Basketball with the “Dream Team,” the first Olympic squad comprised of professionals.
Always self-effacing but brimming with wisdom and humor, the 87-year-old Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer is featured in his own words in “Courage Matters” with his brother Richard Newton bringing a voice to those words. The film is directed by Jonathan Hock and produced by Phil Aromando, Alex Evans and Jim Podhoretz, the same team that delivered the Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 “Of Miracles and Men” as well as 30 for 30 films “The Best That Never Was,” “Survive and Advance,” “One and Not Done” and the 2016 SEC Storied documentary, “Repeat After Us.”
“I’m so proud to have the privilege of sharing the story of C.M. Newton,” Hock said. “Courage really does matter, and Coach Newton lived a life of courage – courage in the service of fairness, inclusion, strength and dignity. He never sought fame or wealth for his Hall of Fame achievements, but the SEC and American sports as a whole are vastly richer because of C. M. Newton.”
Photo by University of Alabama Athletics