Op-Ed

Will UK finally ring the bell in victory?

The bell is in Barker Hall on campus.
The bell is in Barker Hall on campus.

Step back in time with me to 1989.

David Roselle was president of the University of Kentucky in his second year. The NCAA was nailing UK to the wall for various men's basketball violations even though Roselle had pledged to cooperate with its investigation with open arms.

Basketball coach Eddie Sutton flew faster than the speed of sound out of Lexington and as far, far away from Kentucky as he could possibly get. Basketball coach Rick Pitino had not arrived in Kentucky yet.

With all this turmoil, my alma mater had no bell on campus. And officials wanted someone to donate one sufficient to ring over the campus.

My friend and colleague at Kentucky Power Company, Nathan Kirk, an alumnus of Pike ville College sent me a note he clipped from the Herald-Leader that mentioned that UK was looking for a bell because there had not been one on campus for as long as anyone could remember.

I was the land management and building supervisor with Kentucky Power, and we had just recovered a bell from an abandoned Methodist church we had purchased years before in Lewis County. Kentucky Power President Bob Matthews gave me permission to give the university the bell.

In just a few weeks, with photos in hand and a description of the 1,400-pound bell, I visited with Jack Blanton, UK's vice chancellor for administration. We struck a deal. Kentucky Power would donate the bell, and UK would put a plaque on Barker Hall thanking the people of Carrs in Lewis County and Kentucky Power for it.

UK had to do some structural work on the bell tower of Barker Hall, and it was decided that instead of swinging the bell, a mechanical strike would suffice. The bell was huge, nearly five feet in diameter.

We met on a beautiful spring day in 1989 on campus to dedicate the bell. Some of the fine folks from Lewis County who had attended the little Carrs Methodist Church were there to hear their old bell ring with new life as students strolled by on their way to the Student Center.

Blanton told me the bell will ring every hour to bring a resounding joy to the campus. He noted however that when and if UK's football team defeats the Tennessee team, the bell will ring non-stop for at least one hour.

Bear in mind, that was more than 22 years ago. That one hour of ringing has never occurred.

Will this be the year that our bell on campus rings for an hour non-stop? I guess we will see this Saturday when Kentucky and Tennessee play the last game of the season. This might be the year. Go Cats! Beat Tennessee! I want to hear about our bell.

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