When she learned that former Kentucky public address announcer Jim Ingle passed away last month, Debbie Yow called and left a voice mail message. She wanted one simple fact known: "He was nice to me."
Those five words begged for a return call and an explanation. Here it is:
Ingle did the P.A. for UK's women's basketball team when Yow was the coach in the late 1970s. At that time, few women's teams across the country had full-time coaches. Typically, the women's basketball programs were part of campus recreation. Coaches were barely more than volunteers.
Yow's salary for her first season as UK coach in 1976-77 was $9,000. She got a raise to $11,000 in Year 2. A raise to $18,000 in her third season came after being summoned to then UK president Otis Singletary's office.
"I was worried I had done something wrong," she said. "Instead, he said, 'Debbie, Mrs. Singletary reminded me this morning that I need to give you a raise, so this is what it will be.' I was stunned, but happy."
The humble beginnings of her coaching career included buying a small television "on time," Yow said. "Paid $32 a month for quite a while.
"Also, paycheck day meant I could buy grapes. Funny what a person remembers."
Yow didn't mind living on a limited budget. She was happy to be coaching. But she was sensitive to how she was perceived.
"I felt I was always trying to justify the fact that this was OK, that we should have women's basketball in college," Yow said. "And, yeah, it's even OK if you have a full-time coach."
Ingle seemed to agree.
"He treated me with respect ... ," she said. "I could tell he was proud to be associated with us."
In the summer of 1977, Yow arranged a trip to five European countries for her team. Before she and her players went to Europe, Yow happened to cross paths with then men's coach Joe B. Hall.
"He took $100 out of his wallet and said, 'I want to give you this money for the trip,'" Yow recalled. She protested. He insisted, saying, "You need to have souvenirs to bring back."
About a week later, Hall offered Yow a check for $100. She again protested, saying he had already given her $100. "The money was from me," Hall said. "The check is from my wife."
Yow never got around to thanking Hall for what she called "one of the most kind gestures that's ever been made to me, as a young professional without much money and still feeling a little bit nervous about being a basketball coach.
"It was all very new and he made me feel I belonged. I will never forget that."
During Yow's time at UK, the women's team got to move its practices from a campus rec gym to Memorial Gymnasium. "Going to Memorial for practice was like a religious experience," she said.
Yow was back at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday. As North Carolina State athletic director, she led a delegation of staffers on a tour of the coliseum, the Joe Craft Center and the Wildcat Coal Lodge. N.C. State is planning to build a basketball dorm that will house the women's team as well as the men's. Yow said she knew of at least eight or nine schools with similar housing for their basketball teams.
She's come a long way since having to transport basketballs in the trunk of her car from the rec center for her UK team's practice in Memorial Coliseum.
Noting how differently women's teams are perceived now, Yow credited UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. "It's a sea change," she said, "and he's the driver behind it all. I'm a Mitch Barnhart fan."
A car pulled up interrupting Yow's then-and-now reflection. One of her former players, Tanya Fogle, climbed out of the car and embraced the coach that gave her a UK scholarship 40 years ago.
"I lost 40 pounds from May to August to get that scholarship," Fogle said. Two brothers helped her lose weight. "I jogged from one end of Lexington to the other," she said. She ate only fish and chicken. She weighed in every week.
Of the scholarship, Yow said, "She earned it."
Yow recalled how Fogle didn't mind the pain involved in taking a charge or delivering one.
The coach and player draped arms around each other's shoulders as they reminisced about the early years of UK women's basketball. Then Fogle got back in her car and drove away. Yow noted how Fogle had turned her life around after an arrest in 2002 and jail time.
As she spoke, Yow wiped tears from her eyes.
KSR host Andy Barr?
If Kentucky Sports Radio host and founder Matt Jones runs for Kentucky's 6th District Congressional seat next year, his opponent could file for equal time on radio and television.
Bobby Baker works for the Federal Communications Commission as assistant chief of the policy division in the media bureau. He explained how equal time provisions would apply when a sports broadcaster ran for elective office:
■ Once someone like Jones officially enters the race, the equal time provisions go into effect. Initially, only potential opponents in a primary election could file for equal time. Assuming Jones won the primary, incumbent congressman Andy Barr could then file for equal time for subsequent on-air appearances.
■ Opponents would have to file for equal time within seven days of a Jones appearance.
■ Stations must provide the equal time free of charge.
■ The fact that Jones could be merely talking about sports and avoiding political issues on KSR or the UK Network would not matter. "Sportscasters could be doing what sportscasters do," Baker said. "They could be doing commentary during an actual game or they could be doing on-air reports on the news. The fact that it's non-political is immaterial."
Baker offered what he called a "farfetched" example. When Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, the televising of his old movies, including Bedtime for Bonzo, would have been grounds for an opponent to ask for equal time.
■ Of course, Jones appears in various formats: a daily two-hour sports radio talk show, sideline reporting at some UK basketball games, plus pre- and post-game shows.
"All these appearances would be identical in terms of implications for the stations" to provide equal time for political opponents, Baker said.
■ Only stations that serve Kentucky's 6th Congressional District would be subject to equal time provisions if Jones runs for Barr's seat and continues being a sports broadcaster. So he could be a broadcaster for a station in, say, Paducah without Barr being able to ask for equal time.
■ It would not matter if Jones wanted to continue operating as a broadcaster under terms of a contract signed prior to becoming a candidate. Any appearance after filing as a candidate would be subject to the equal time provisions.
■ Equal time is determined on what Baker called "a stopwatch approach." Each minute Jones is on radio or television must be made available to an opponent. Time for commercials is subtracted from the total. Plus, if a guest were to launch a mini filibuster in answering a question, that time would also be subtracted.
As the 2015 college football season grew near, the 24/7 house ad that is the SEC Network naturally focused its promotional tools on league teams. Each got a 30-minute preview show that featured sunny outlooks, friendly conversations with head coaches and a game-by-game prediction of victories (and, if absolutely unavoidable, defeats).
Kentucky fared well: the predicted 8-4 record would mean the most victories since 2007, and equal the most since 1984.
With SEC Network host Peter Burns breaking ties, analysts Matt Stinchcomb and Greg McElroy voted on which games UK would win. In league play, a majority of the trio saw the Cats beating South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
A suspicious mind might wonder if the shows on South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt predicted those teams would lose to Kentucky. Short answer: They did not.
On the Mississippi State show, Chris Doering and McElroy picked the Bulldogs to beat Kentucky. (To be fair, McElroy picked UK to lose to State on the UK show. Burns broke the tie by saying the Cats would win.)
On the South Carolina show, Jabari Greer and McElroy picked the Gamecocks to beat Kentucky. (Again, McElroy was consistent. He picked UK to lose this game on both shows. Burns again broke the tie.)
On the Florida show, Clint Stoerner and Doering picked the Gators to beat Kentucky.
As for Vanderbilt, Dari Nowkhah and Marcus Spears spared the Commodores the indignity of a prediction of loss after loss. Instead, Spears picked the five SEC teams that Vandy could be most hopeful of beating. He said Vandy's best chance to win an SEC game would come against — you guessed it — Kentucky.
Sports Illustrated named former UK player Kyle Wiltjer among its "top 10 high-impact seniors" for the 2015-16 season. Of course, he transferred to Gonzaga after the 2012-13 season.
S.I. put Wiltjer at No. 4 on the list, and summed up his two UK seasons as "somewhat falling by the wayside among John Calipari's annual flood of incoming blue chippers."
Georges Niang of Iowa State topped Sports Illustrated's list of top 10 seniors.
A player familiar to UK fans, North Carolina guard Marcus Paige, was No. 2. Disagreeing with ESPN analysts Dino Gaudio and Sean Farnham, S.I. said, "A healthier Paige may be the nation's best point guard." A few weeks ago, Gaudio and Farnham said Kentucky sophomore Tyler Ulis would be the best point guard this coming season.
Other players on the S.I. list were Buddy Hield of Oklahoma, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet of Wichita State, Caris LeVert of Michigan, Perry Ellis of Kansas, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera of Georgetown and Anthony Gill of Virginia.
These players, S.I. said, were "most likely to shine."
To Alex Poythress. He turns 22 today. ... To John Wall. He turns 25 today. ... To Nazr Mohammed. He turned 38 on Saturday. ... To Julius Mays. He turned 26 on Friday. ... To Dale Brown. The former UK guard turns 47 today. ... To Bo Lanter. He turned 56 on Friday. ... To Steve Smith. The Oak Hill Academy coach (and Asbury University grad) turns 60 on Monday. ... To Rob Evans. The former Ole Miss coach turns 69 on Monday.