Saturday, May 2, 2009

Don't Hate UK's Coach, Hate The NCAA's Game

From all the e-mails I have been getting lately, I guess some of the readers here at Eaves On Sports are a little upset that I haven't written anything about Kentucky lately--something I hadn't even realized. Maybe it's because this is not a UK blog, but rather a blog where I share my insight and opinions on any and all topics that interest me.

Naturally having grown up in Kentucky, UK Basketball would be one subject I would often address here--just not all the time. However, right now is one of those times.

Since President Lee Todd and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart finally came to their senses and fired Billy Gillispie and then replaced him with John Calipari, I constantly field questions from both non-UK fans as well as UK-haters. They ask me how long will it be before Kentucky ends up on probation. Some in jest. Others sincere.

I understand why some people might ask such questions considering that the NCAA struck Calipari's run with U Mass to the 1996 Final Four from the official records after it was discovered that Marcus Camby received improper benefits while playing for the Minutemen. However, it's very important to note that the NCAA declared that Calipari was never involved or responsible for the infractions.

That statement of fact, however, does not stop some from labeling Calipari a "dirty coach," a topic columnist Jason Whitlock addressed in a March 31st column. Here's an excerpt.

Coach Cal's rep is that he plays loosey-goosey with the NCAA rulebook. He recruits prep-school kids, late-academic qualifiers and he's not above giving a dad (Milt Wagner) a job or an AAU coach a speaking engagement in order to land a program-maker.

Some sports writers I respect consider Coach Cal a "dirty coach."

I consider him a damn good one. And given the NCAA's insistence on holding onto an outdated rulebook and an immoral/hypocritical concept of amateurism, I believe Calipari's ethics are beyond question.

I agree. I know for a fact that Calipari has the best of intentions when dealing with kids. He obviously has a vested interest in getting the best of the best to play for his teams, but he is also sincerely concerned about their ultimate well-being, whether they play professionally or not.

Does he utilize the boundaries of NCAA rules to his advantage? Of course! And he better, if he wants to keep up with the other top coaches in the country--Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun, Ben Howland, etc--who use the same practice.

So rest assured UK fans, Calipari is going to work as hard, if not harder, than any coach in America to make sure Kentucky is always challenging for national championships, but he won't do it at the expense of the program and/or his career.


Jason said...

I agree Michael. The guy has a reputation that has essentially been fabricated from good ole' fashioned rumors. Over the years, the reputation has just blossomed from the Calipari-hater crowd from nothing more than hear-say. you can be sure that those same people will be at it again when he starts winning at UK. Truth is, John Calipari can flat out recruit and he's a good coach to compliment which has lead to his success.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Kentucky then you know that UK basketball is king and that when UK fans are energized they want to hear any and all things UK, even if it's "Coach Cal had a donut and coffee and talked with local media about the Derby";)

Anonymous said...


You rock! Thanks for all that you report and comment on. Keep it coming!

From one UK fan to another,

Mark McKelvey said...

Very good blog.

Anonymous said...

A May 2nd post? It's Derby Day and you don't do anything on Derby Day, but watch the Derby. Even if it is Kentucky Basketball. Have you been so removed from your roots that you have failed to realize this?