April 14, 2015
Tiger Den Basketball
"Photo Finish" by Brian Hendrickson.
NCAA Champion magazine March 2015, ncaachampionmagazine.org
In six decades of shooting the Final Four, Rich Clarkson has shaped how we see the game.
Sparky Stalcup, coach at Missouri from 1946-62, was criticized for banning Clarkson from Brewer Fieldhouse for photographing the tirade shown below — an altercation that ended in an awkward airline flight. This story started when Clarkson was a student at Kansas covering a Jayhawk road game.
Missouri coach Sparky Stalcup put on one of the greatest displays of a coach losing it that I've ever seen in the old Brewer Fieldhouse — leaping up onto the floor and throwing towels and running up and down the sidelines. I'm busy shooting pictures of the whole thing. I made about eight or 10 of those and sent them off to the Kansas City Star.
A day later, my mother says, "The phone call is for you." It was Coach Stalcup. He said, "I want you to know that you're never welcome again in Brewer Fieldhouse." So I called the sports editor of the Kansas City Star to report on the phone call I got about these pictures. They then wrote a column about it. And then the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote an article about it, and the guy who was the sports editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune wrote one, all very critical of Sparky Stalcup, of treating an aspiring college photographer like that.
Later that year I'm getting ready to follow the Kansas basketball team to Seattle for the championships, and they were on a commercial flight. They were one seat short on the connection out of Minneapolis, so they put me on another flight that was leaving 30 minutes later. So I'm getting there just as they're getting ready to close the door on this flight, and just before they rolled the stairway away the stewardess at the top of the stairway says, "There's only one seat left." And the one seat that was empty and vacant was right next to Sparky Stalcup.
He says, "You're Clarkson, aren't you?"