Joker Phillips is married to GC Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Leslie Phillips

Georgetown, KY – It’s official – Joker Phillips, the University of Kentucky football coach who somehow willed his Wildcats to ending that dreaded 27-year losing streak to Tennessee in November, will kick-off Billy Reed’s second semester line-up of “Conversations with Champions” guests on February 15.

This fireside chat, which is filmed for later showing on KET, is free and open to the public at 7:30 p.m. in John L. Hill Chapel.

Reed’s series – which delves into issues of character, ethics and integrity in (primarily) college athletics – has quite a catch in Phillips. The UK head man surely has much to say about team character after losing star Randall Cobb to the NFL draft a year early; despite knowing that Kentucky’s bowl streak was already over going into the UT game; and, with both quarterbacks out with injuries, giving the sign-calling reins to wide receiver Matt Roark against the Vols. Roark – now there’s character – count on Coach Phillips talking about that young man!

Reed, a GC Executive Scholar-in-Residence, continues to bring esteemed guests to campus in Year 2 of his “Conversations with Champions” series and build interest in an Academy for Character in Sport.

On March 7 at 7:30 p.m., the former Louisville Courier-Journal sports editor and columnist will have Tori Murden-McClure, the first woman to sail the Atlantic and now president of Spalding College. The Richard & Karen Ward Room of the Ensor Learning Resource Center will be the venue for that fireside chat. Sometime in April, Reed hopes to have University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich in Hill Chapel.

In late September, Tubby Smith, right – who led the Kentucky Wildcats to the ’98 NCAA basketball crown – kicked off the first of three fall semester fireside chat events. The Lexington media showed up in full force to catch up with the current Minnesota Gophers head coach, who hadn’t really gotten to say a proper goodbye to UK fans. At the private reception, high school sophomore Abbey Bowe, a member of the Lexington Catholic newspaper staff, got to be photographed with Smith and Reed!


Claiborne Farm’s Seth Hancock, center, the man who syndicated the great 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, was Reed’s October guest. Rob Bromley, right, of WKYT-Channel 27 Sports caught Hancock before the event in Hill Chapel.

The conversation with Hancock is scheduled for airing on KET KY at 11 a.m., (EST) Dec. 26; 9 p.m., Dec. 27; 4 p.m., Dec. 28 and 11 a.m., Dec. 30.

Reed’s November guest was retired newspaper editor John Carroll, second from left, BELOW. Here he shared a laugh with Tim Kelly, left, recently retired Lexington Herald-Leader publisher, new publisher Rufus Friday and Reed at the home of (President) Bill and Jan Crouch. Carroll, who guided the Lexington paper and later the Los Angeles Times to multiple Pulitzer prizes for hard-hitting journalism, is working on a book about the relationship between sports and college presidents.

The conversation with John Carroll is scheduled for airing on KET KY at 9 p.m., January 16 and on KET at 4 a.m., January 23.

Earlier, Gale Sayers, BELOW right, the legendary Chicago Bears running back was the special summer “conversation” guest of Billy Reed at our Thomas & King Conference Center. Sayers also dropped by GC Coach Bill Cronin’s Football Camp for some inspirational words. The NFL star from the Sixties was honored by the Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group in Lexington one night and inducted into The Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame the next evening.