Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who graduated from the University of Kentucky and I would imagine sleeps under a big blue Wildcat bedspread and wears those big puffy blue Wildcat slippers around the governor’s mansion, defended (shockingly!) Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari Thursday. When asked about Calipari causing humiliation at yet another of his past schools, Beshear said, “I’m not worried about it because they have never said Coach Cal did anything wrong at all. I think he’s a very upstanding guy. I think that’s his reputation and I think that reputation will be with him here. I really don’t foresee any problems.”
How much do souls go for in Lexington, anyway?
John Calipari has coached two different schools to Final Fours in his career — Massachusetts and Memphis. He also has managed to get two different schools stripped of Final Fours because of some combination of cheating/academic fraud/using an illegal player — Massachusetts and Memphis. I think they call this a trend.
Beshear believes Calipari’s reputation is one of an upstanding guy? Which branch of Rikers is he comparing him to?
Kentucky has experienced the shame of probation before (see: magazine cover). But it hired Calipari in March to run its basketball program. Why? Because Calipari knows how to win. And there’s that whole the-ends-justify-the-means thing. I wrote at the time that Kentucky was taking a huge risk. I believe that now more than ever.
Memphis will have to vacate its NCAA record 38 wins and a trip to the Final Four in 2007-08 because of major NCAA violations. The most significant is that former star giuard Derrick Rose had somebody take the SAT for him to ensure his eligibility.
Of course, Calipari’s fingerprints will be not be found anywhere on Rose’s SAT, just as they weren’t found on the cash, clothes, jewelry and more salacious benefits that Marcus Camby received from agents when both were at UMass. I wonder if Calipari showed the NCAA his blindfold?
This is the way it works in big-time college athletics. The guy at the top makes sure nothing bad can be connected to him. It’s just like organized crime.
And by the way: When Kentucky was put on three years probation in 1989 for trivial matters like mailing Emery envelopes full of money to recruits, then coach Eddie Sutton’s finger prints weren’t on the envelope, either. That was pinned on an assistant coach. I guess Sutton wore gloves.
I don’t feel sorry for Memphis. The school should have known what it was getting into with Calipari. He had a history of recruiting kids with significant academic issues at UMass that continued at Memphis. (One player, Robert Dozier, was rejected by Georgia after a suspicious SAT score. Of course, he got into Memphis.)
But what’s unfortunate is the school is left to deal with the humiliation alone while the principle figures in the NCAA’s investigation — Calipari and Rose — are long gone. Calipari received an eight-year, $31.65 million contract at Kentucky. Rose was selected first overall by the Chicago Bulls in last year’s NBA draft and is pulling in about $5 million a season. That should buy a new conscience.
As for Kentucky, stop by a newsstand periodically. They may make it back on another magazine cover.