Kentucky State Rep. Adam Bowling represents the good people of the 87th District in Bell and Harlan counties, and some of those good people have expressed their disapproval of the University of Kentucky’s ongoing commitment to the checkerboard design.
The most tiring debate in UK sports, Bowling asked UK’s VP of University Relations Tom Harris about the future of the checkerboards during a legislative hearing regarding government contracts, including the renewal of a UK marketing contract, last week.
“Is that still their goal moving forward because, believe it or not, I know we kind of laugh at it, but I’ve had a lot of people that have reached out to me that aren’t a fan of becoming Checkerboard U,” Bowling, a member of the Government Contract Review Committee,
“I don’t know if you all have plans to look at that and maybe consult with them or talk with them about going a different direction. I know a lot of times now when I see new facilities, it’s actually implemented into the buildings themselves or the fields, or the turfs or whatnot, and it just may be something you all want to look at because I’ve gotten a lot of feedback.”
Harris replied, “Fair point. I’ll pass that along.”
Bowling’s district fights Big Blue Nation’s battles on the Tennessee border only a tunnel drive away from Vol country, so they probably catch the most grief for UK adopting UT’s favorite pattern. Nike is to blame here for slapping it on the Billy Gillispie era of Kentucky’s basketball uniforms to mixed reviews from the fan base in 2008.
Then back in 2018 on “Just The Cats” radio, UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart told KSR’s own Shannon The Dude, “I really find it fascinating that people get fired up about uniforms… Frankly, we do have a deal with Nike and they came to us with some stuff from the silks of Secretariat. When we first started this, it wasn’t a checkerboard thing, it was the silks of Secretariat and that’s how we’ve honored it. A lot of our kids like it and we give each sport the opportunity to design their own uniforms, so that’s where we are.”
You can revisit that heated moment in Just The Cats/KSR history here.
Hear Bowling’s unexpected checkerboard question to the UK administration below as the never-ending debate rolls on, even in Frankfort: