C.M. Newton, the Hall of Fame athletic director and coach who helped restore Kentucky as a national basketball power after it was sanctioned by the N.C.A.A., integrated two college programs and oversaw the United States Olympic “Dream Team” in 1992, died on Monday. He was 88.
Officials at Alabama and Kentucky announced his death. They did not say where he died.
Newton was involved with college basketball for more than 50 years, beginning as a member of Kentucky’s 1951 N.C.A.A. championship squad.
As a coach, he compiled a record of 509-375. He began his career at Transylvania College (now Transylvania University) in Kentucky, where he led the basketball program to its first postseason appearance, in the 1962-63 season, before moving on to Alabama and Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference.
Alabama won three consecutive SEC titles, from 1974 to 1976, under Newton and reached the postseason six times. The Associated Press named him SEC Coach of the Year in 1972 and 1976 while he was at Alabama and again in 1988 and 1989 when he was at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt hired Newton in 1981, and he went 129-115 with the Commodores, notching his 500th career victory in 1989. He also coached Vanderbilt to the Sweet 16 in the 1988 N.C.A.A. Tournament, where Barry Goheen knocked down two 3-point shots late in a dramatic overtime victory over Pittsburgh.
Newton returned to Kentucky as athletic director in 1989 to shepherd the men’s program as it recovered from N.C.A.A. sanctions, including a two-year postseason ban, over recruiting and academic violations. His hiring of Rick Pitino as coach was the key step in that rehabilitation.
Newton was credited with integrating the men’s basketball programs at both Transylvania and Alabama through his recruiting, and at Kentucky he hired the Wildcats’ first black women’s and men’s basketball coaches, Bernadette Mattox and Tubby Smith.
“I asked him how he was able to have the courage to go against the grain in Alabama at that time,” Kentucky’s current men’s basketball coach, John Calipari, wrote on a blog last week. “He told me: ‘I saw people as people. And I wanted to win. I was trying to bring in the best players. I didn’t care if they were black, white, green or gold. I wanted to win.’ ”
Kentucky’s journey back to prominence under Newton had moments of heartbreak, notably a stunning 104-103 overtime loss to the eventual champion, Duke, in the 1992 N.C.A.A. Tournament East Region final. A last-second jumper by Duke’s Christian Laettner won the game, which some have called the greatest in college basketball history.
A year later, Kentucky made it to the Final Four, and in 1996 it was crowned national champion when it defeated Syracuse in the title game.
Newton made Mattox, a Pitino assistant, the Wildcats’ first African-American women’s coach in 1995. The program went 21-11 in 1988-89 and reached the second round of the N.C.A.A. Tournament, its first 20-win effort and postseason berth in nearly a decade. After Pitino left Kentucky for the N.B.A. in 1997, Newton hired Smith as his replacement.
The Wildcats earned the 1998 national title in Smith’s first season, defeating Utah, and Newton handed the coach the championship trophy as chairman of the N.C.A.A. Tournament committee.
Newton also made his mark on the national level as director of USA Basketball from 1992 to 1996, overseeing the United States Olympic team’s roster transformation from college players to a collection of N.B.A. superstars and playing a key role in the selections.
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were the most famous of a powerhouse lineup of future Hall of Famers composing that 1992 “Dream Team,” which dominated the Summer Games in Barcelona and won the gold medal.
Newton retired as Kentucky’s athletic director in 1999.
Charles Martin Newton was born on Feb. 2, 1930, in Rockwood, Tenn. After his family moved to Florida, he became a three-sports star at Fort Lauderdale High School.
At Kentucky he was a pitcher on the baseball team in addition to playing basketball from 1948 to 1951. The Wildcats’ 1951 championship was their third under the renowned coach Adolph Rupp.
Newton briefly pitched in the Yankees’ minor league system while beginning his coaching career at Transylvania.
He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, three years after receiving the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award.
Newton had two daughters and a son with his first wife, Evelyn, who died in 1999. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, whom he married in 2002. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.