|Emmert, left, and Calipari meet on the podium after Kentucky won the national championship in early April. (US Presswire)|
There is one particular area of public speaking where I think college leaders/general people of note still don't quite get how big the room is.
The paid-for speaking engagement.
It used to be that coaches, college presidents, (whomever, really) they could go to these things, make a few thousand bucks spieling for an hour, say what's on their mind and get out of there. What they said was normally boilerplate, but if there was anything of note or criticism or something borne out of curiosity, maybe it'd land in the daily paper the next morning and that would pretty much be it.
But now these assemblies might as well be taking place on a person's Twitter account, or during a live TV interview. Just because a tripod camera isn't in the room doesn't mean what's said there stays there. Just ask Bob Knight, whose made a habit of creating headlines while speaking at dinners and fundraisers.
What a coach/president/leader says echoes well beyond the halls or gyms in which they speak. And that's a good thing. They are after all speaking publicly.
With that, let's turn to Kentucky coach John Calipari, who tore into NCAA president Mark Emmert Thursday night while speaking at Samford. This probably isn't a story a decade ago, maybe even sooner, but it is now. Calipari who, fair or not, is notoriously tied to the one-and-done rule, spoke out against something Emmert said recently regarding high school players going to the NBA.
The Birmingham News' Jon Solomon reports:
Few coaches can actually call out Emmert for something he said -- or would want to. Calipari is in that select group. He also has a point, but it remains a mixed message when Calipari deftly uses every NBA-instituted rule to his NCAA-coaching advantage.
"The NCAA president said let them go right out of high school? What?" Calipari said. "How many ninth graders will think, 'I'm going right to the NBA?' Five hundred? One thousand? Now those kids will be really focused on academics. How could you make that statement?
Calipari said the NCAA could pay the injury insurance for 30 eligible players each year rather than have them take out $15,000 individual loans. And he said the NBA could pay more to rookies who graduate from college.
"How about we encourage them to stay longer because it's the right thing and it's the smart thing?" Calipari said. "There's things we have to do to make it better for those young people."
This is merely a continuation of the debate over when players should be able to enter the NBA. Earlier on Friday, we learned precisely how NBA commissioner David Stern feels about it.
Emmert should respond to Calipari here, but he won't. But he should. We should be encouraging the discussion over this, because the one-and-done rule feels like its in purgatory. Either let kids leave from high school or put a two-year floor on it. The more we see prominent NCAA figures talking, debating and bringing this up, the more likely we are to see the NBA respond in kind and get some movement or fleshed-out discussion about the rule. It'll never please everybody, but right now few seem content with the way things are between college hoops and the NBA.
What do you want to say, Mark Emmert?