Calipari Takes Aim At The NCAA

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2012

For over a decade John Calipari has taken shots from critics who have questioned his recruiting methods and his ethics. They point to the two Final Four appearances — 1996 at Massachusetts and 2008 at Memphis — that were later vacated by the NCAA, and rejoice when his freshmen-laden teams lose in the NCAA Tournament. Most of the time Calipari has politely smiled and brushed aside the questions pointing to the career success of his players, but sometimes he takes veiled shots and sometimes he is more up front with his irritation. His interview with The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy, released Monday, was the latter. Buried within an excellent discussion about how he runs his program and how he measures success, Calipari offers this quote:

They’re not going to be around long. The NCAA will not. Before I retire from coaching, they will no longer oversee college athletics. They will, but it won’t be the four power conferences—they’ll be on their own. And the main thing is, do you really care about these kids? They’ll get mad that I say it. The NCAA Tournament, for example. It’s more about the selection committee getting on TV, everybody getting their tickets on the aisle, down low, all the parties they go to, the traveling. But we don’t take the parents of the participants. But they take their kids and their families.

The officials will get better hotels than some of their teams. And I know it for a fact. The decisions they make on the $2,000 (expense allowance for student-athletes)—it should have been $4,000. It’s a stipend. It’s not salary. It’s not “pay-for-play.” It’s a stipend. It’s expenses. And then schools vote against it. All this stuff piles up to where people are going to say, “Enough’s enough.”

John Calipari Is Not A Fan Of The NCAA

It is an interesting perspective and most certainly an interesting time to take it. The NCAA has long been criticized by media members, who earn their paychecks covering the sport but are afforded protection by their parent companies. However, very few coaches — particularly active ones — have spoken out against the NCAA. The NCAA cannot come out openly against Calipari here and at most they could hit him with a harsher penalty if either he or the Kentucky program are caught doing something against NCAA regulations, but we imagine they are less than thrilled about Calipari’s comments.

As for the rest of the article, Calipari also discusses other changes he would make to benefit the athletes. In a sense it is somewhat refreshing to see a coach, particularly one as recognizable and controversial as Calipari, come out against what he sees as injustices against athletes. As entertaining as the interview was, we imagine that the school’s administrators and compliance department will also casually mention to him to keep it down a bit, although we cannot imagine Kentucky attracting much more national attention than it is already getting.

nvr1983 (1397 Posts)

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5 responses to “Calipari Takes Aim At The NCAA”

  1. I. Renko says:

    Cal at his sanctimonious best. Like Sonny Vacarro, his public statements that he’s all about what’s best for the kids are better viewed as PR for his recruiting efforts than genuine expressions of principle. If you were a college coach thinking “I want to create a program that is about helping young men,” there are lots of programs you might try to build. But you probably wouldn’t focus your recruiting efforts on the nation’s uber-talented players in the country, the ones already so talented that a professional career is an inevitability. You probably wouldn’t focus on recruiting those kids who, by definition, will be under your stewardship for no longer than 8 months. You probably wouldn’t forsake the hundreds of kids who are not as talented but who toil on the middle and lower rungs of Division I as though they’re irrelevant baggage who are only preventing you from paying your uber-talented players and giving them the opportunity to be recruited by agents while in college.

    And then of course there is his standard strawman self-defense that he will never brainwash his kids and force them to stay when they could leave early. As though Roy Williams or Coach K or Ben Howland or whoever else he is recruiting against would do such a thing. (Not that he would ever say anything negative about another program. Oh, no.) But in the next breath, he suggests that the one-year rule should become a two-year rule. Is that supposed to be a players-first policy?

    The bottom line is this: John Calipari’s job is to win basketball games. He believes the best way to do that is to recruit the most talented, NBA-ready players in the country because (i) this supplies with him with excellent on-court talent, and (ii) it provides a sustainable, self-perpetuating pitch about how his program produces NBA players. This may involve, along the way, explicit or implicit dealings with agents, runners, shoe companies, questionable prep schools and academic facilitators, families and entourages in search of something more than playing time, etc. Some of this may be worse than what you might see at other programs, some of it may not be. But all of it, as you see here from reading between the lines, is rationalized by coaches and fans as resistance to an NCAA regulatory regime that is allegedly counter to the interests of students. But that’s mostly what it is — rationalization.

  2. Coach Cal is not going to back down and I hope the University Of Kentucky and other Coaches support his position…Why shouldn’t the parents of these Players be special guest of the University, their Son plays for: (these young men bring in Millions of $ for these schools). it’s about time someone had the guts to stand up to the NCAA…NCAA Committee members and their friends and family members will be in possession of 100s of thousands of dollars in NCAA Tourney tickets, but if you buy a player a meal or a plane ticket, your subject to sanctions…Hypocrites…

  3. Herb says:

    Best formula for college athletes:
    1. Give all scholarship athletes a choice:
    — Full ride scholarship plus the perks they now receive.
    –Cash that equates to the scholarship plus the perks they now receive.

    This way, those who value education can go to school and get their degree.
    Those who have no interest in school and are just there to prepare for a pro-career can just play ball.

    This end the hypocrisy, yet still allow the schools to field successful teams and make the money.

    Call this “The Kentucky Solution.”

  4. Zeb says:

    Is it not possible to do your job, win basketball games, and to pursue an ideological belief, to create a players first program?

    If his belief is to do the best he can for the players, would he be more effective to do it with lesser athletes at a lesser school? This is essentially what I Renko is suggesting. If you have a belief, is it more beneficial as a whole to work inclusively on a local level? Or to rally others together with your cause, create a community of peers pursuing such ends? John Calipari has the best job in college basketball. If he truly believes he should do what is best for players, he will feel a responsibility to be an advocate for such beliefs from the platform he has, while also doing best for his players.

    You can call this all a recruiting ploy. It definitely reaps recruiting benefits. But to say it is exclusively a selfish recruiting ambition negates the whole. What if John Calipari enlists a change that benefits student athletes everywhere? Is that simply a recruiting ploy? He isn’t boasting of his personal efforts to benefit his players. He could. He is asking for a change that could benefit players at multiple schools.

    As far as recruiting goes, four of the nine players gone pro from Kentucky since he has been there weren’t his recruits. Of those four, only one, Patrick Patterson, really had any shot of going pro before. Cal calls it the Kentucky Effect. Call it what you want, Josh Harrellson had no shot of playing in the NBA before he embraced the challenges to get better that Coach Calipari presented to him. And of the remaining five players that were Cal’s recruits, one, Enes Kanter didn’t have the option to return to school.

    The bottom line is, to do your job as a basketball coach well doesn’t render your attempts to provide better for players spurious or dishonest. Besides, at which middle or lower rung program could any coach do right for ‘hundreds’ of players? I mean, John Calipari is forsaking hundreds of players?

  5. Katbluefan says:

    Coach Cal and KY catches Heck for recruiting one/two and done players by jealous people but what they don’t say is that other programs are doing the same thing. It’s just the other program aren’t getting the best players because their coaches can’t prepare the kids as good as Cal can and the kids don’t want to play for other programs. Look at Sullinger, better last year than this year. Draft position mostly likely drops this year vs last. Who is at fault, his coach ???

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