In February 1966, 101 men, mostly IBM employees, met, wrote and sent a telegram to University of Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp. The Wildcats were playing out of town, and the group wanted to show its support. Each person chipped in 10 cents to pay for the message.
Ten of those men got together afterward and decided they wanted to do more. Working with Rupp, they hosted a banquet for his team at the end of the season. On March 9, 1966, those men formed a service group and became the Committee of 101.
Fifty years later, the group has grown from 101 members from all over the state to more than 360, and it will celebrate this milestone, beginning in June.
Only four of the men became 50-year members: Rex Payne, Gene Oakley, Dave Trosper and John Walters. Walters died in February.
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The Committee of 101 will be recognized during halftime of a UK football game and will celebrate its 50th anniversary with the upcoming 2016-17 basketball season.
“It’s really hard to believe it’s been 50 years,” said Oakley. “I really don’t know where the time went. We started as young kids working basketball games at Memorial Coliseum, and now we’ve been in Rupp Arena for 40 years. It has truly been a labor of love.”