Online Exhibit

“60 Years of the Men’s Final Four Through the Lens of Rich Clarkson”

Rich Clarkson is a pioneer in American photojournalism. He was the Director of Photography at the Topeka Capitol Journal, the assistant managing editor at the Denver Post, senior assistant editor of graphics for the National Geographic Society and the founder of Rich Clarkson and Associates (Clarkson Creative Photography) in Denver, Colorado. Throughout his career in management positions he continued to photograph for Sports Illustrated and eventually for the NCAA covering a staggering 60 NCAA Men’s Final Fours throughout his career starting in 1952 as a student at the University of Kansas.

In this collection are some of Clarkson’s favorite photos that he has taken over the last 60 years. It includes an audio tour component that Clarkson recorded just for the exhibit by Clarkson Creative that was featured in the Hall of Champions in 2015.

The Cover Photo (1981)

After the 1981 Final Four, Sports Illustrated put this photo of the game-changing shot by Indiana’s Isaiah Thomas on the cover.

Clyde Lovelette (1952)

Kansas student-athlete, Clyde Lovelette, in the 1952 Final Four.

Jerry Lucas (1961)

Jerry Lucas of Ohio State was considered by many the Player of the Year and Player of the Game for the 1961 Final Four. This one photo tells that story.

Hayes vs. Alcindor (1967)

The 1967 Final Four featured the premiere match-up of Houston’s Elvin Hayes vs. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor. At that time, it had the largest television viewing audience for any NCAA championship.

Magic vs. Bird (1979)

The 1979 Final four featured Indiana State’s Larry Bird and Michigan State’s Earvin (Magic) Johnson. Many considered this the game between the two best collegiate players in the country at the time.

Texas Western Upsets Kentucky (1966)

Texas Western upsets Kentucky in the 1966 Final Four – a game that would go down in history. It was the first Final Four that featured a starting line-up of all African American student-athletes.

Coach Dean Smith (1968)

Coach Dean Smith of North Carolina is seen here on the sidelines during the 1968 Final Four.

The Game Winning Basket (1983)

North Carolina State upsets top ranked Houston in the 1983 Final Four. This photo captures the game-winning shot which Sports Illustrated used for its opening spread.

Wilt Chamberlain (1957)

The 1957 Final Four featured Kansas vs. North Carolina. Wilt Chamberlin (Kansas) was the dominant collegiate player coming into the game; however, North Carolina won the championship.

Indiana Waits (1981)

The attempted assassination of President Ronal Regan had taken place just a few hours before the 1981 Final Four championship game was to begin. The NCAA had to decide if the game should still take place due to the severity of the situation. This photo is taken as Indiana waits in the locker room for the final decision. The game was eventually played, and Indiana was the victor over North Carolina.

Behind the Scenes (1978)

Over the years, Clarkson has been able to get permission from various coaches in order to capture moments in the locker room, including this photo of the Kentucky team in the 1978 Final Four.

Father and Son (1969)

Rich Clarkson took this photo of Lew Alcindor (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) celebrating UCLA’s 1969 National Championship. Beside him in this photo is his father, Ferdinand Alcindor.

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