It may not be the most stunning trophy in the sports world, but the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team isn’t shy about showing off its national championship trophy. Over the past month the wood and gold-plated trophy has been kissed by the players, sat in the Cincinnati Reds dugout, and this week a Lexington baker even made a cake that looks like the trophy. It's made stops across the state from Ashland to Paducah.
“This was just a chance for them to go out and take it around the state, let a lot of people see it and get their picture made with it,” says UK Athletics spokesman John Hayden.
Coach John Calipari will appear with the trophy during Thursday’s Pegasus Parade in Louisville, and then it’s off to the White House on Friday. Hayden says the trophy will also likely travel to UK basketball’s satellite camps this summer.
“You never know where it’s going to pop up. On the trophy tour they’d be going along and we’ll stop at a McDonald’s or we’ll stop at the gas or wherever and out bounces coach with the trophy.”
The trophy gets a regular dusting, but no white gloves or any sort of special handling is required.
“[The fans] are extra careful with it because you don’t want to be the person that damaged it. And certainly you’ve seen what happened at other schools,” says Hayden.
Last month, Alabama’s crystal football trophy was shattered when it was accidentally knocked from a display stand at a scrimmage game.
UK also has a Waterford crystal trophy that was presented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, but Hayden says it stays in the trophy case.