Tag Archives: sec

Johnny Cox Named 2019 SEC Legend

Johnny Cox, a contributor in Doug Brunk’s Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories From Kentucky Basketball Greatswill be the University of Kentucky’s member of the 2019 Southeastern Conference Legends. This group of former stars will be honored during the 2019 SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.

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(Courtesy of the University of Kentucky Archives)


Cox’s time at UK was marked by two SEC Championships and a national championship. He was also a three-time All-SEC performer, as well as a NCAA Consensus First Team All-American in 1959. Over the course of his three seasons, he averaged 17.4 points per game and 12.0 rebounds, and he is one of only a handful of players to have recorded more than 1,000 career points and rebounds. Since his time at UK, his No. 24 jersey has been retired and he has been inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame.





“When my jersey was retired in the rafters of Rupp Arena I remember feeling like I’d done something worthwhile. I suppose I was successful in basketball at UK because I spent a lot of time fooling with the game, kept trying to get better. When you spend a lot of time doing something, and you don’t deviate from it, you get results.”

Johnny Cox in Wildcat Memories


Cats Facts: Nat Northington

Nate Northington

Nate Washington, the first African American football player in the SEC. Credit: Louisville Courier Journal

This afternoon, the University of Kentucky announced a plan to build four statues honoring the lives and legacies of Greg Page, Nat Northington, Wilbur Hackett, and Houston Hogg–the first four African-American football players at UK and in the South Eastern Conference (SEC). Who were these young men? Two of them were Kentuckians by birth.

To celebrate this announcement, we hope you will enjoy learning a little bit about Nat Northington from his entry in The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia.

Northington, Nate “Nat” (b. 1947, Louisville, KY), football player.

Nate “Nat” Northington was born to William E and Flossie in Louisville, Kentucky on October 17, 1947. He was an outstanding high school football player. His junior year at Thomas Jefferson High School in Louisville, he led the team in touchdowns. His senior year he excelled in academics as well becoming an officer and member of the Beta Club and National Honor Society. He was recruited by the University of Kentucky (UK) as a wideout receiver alongside Greg Page, also African-American, with the intent of being a model for other Southern schools to integrate their athletic teams. The recruitment process was led in part by former Kentucky Governor Edward T. Breathitt, who at the time was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at UK.

In 1967, Northington’s roommate Greg Page suffered a neck injury during practice which left him paralyzed from the nose down. Page would die thirty-eight days later from his injuries. The next afternoon, Northington would break the SEC color barrier as a wideout receiver for UK in a home loss to the University of Mississippi. On September 30, 1967, he became the first African-American football player to play in a game in the Southeastern Conference, an athletic conference openly reluctant to racially desegregate.    Northington would then leave the UK in the following weeks after the Mississippi game. Being the only black varsity player, Northington expressed the loneliness and distress that he felt, “I can tell you every brick in my room. All I do is talk to my walls.” Shortly after leaving the team in 1967, he transferred to Western Kentucky University where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

After graduation, Northington headed the Bowling Green Housing Authority and later was a staffer at the Louisville Housing Authority. He would eventually become the regional director of property management with the Louisville Metro Housing Authority and serve as licensed minister at his church.

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia is available now from your favorite bookseller or www.kentuckypress.com.