John Calipari's name does not appear in the report.
He is not accused of anything.
That's what Kentucky fans will tell you.
But it's hard not to notice that the man has now coached at two different NCAA basketball programs -- first at UMass, then at Memphis -- and left both under the cloud of allegations of major NCAA rules violations. So even though Calipari has still never been directly implicated in anything, his reputation most certainly took another hit Wednesday when Memphis officials released a report detailing possible violations that could force the school to vacate its appearance in the 2008 Final Four.
Just like UMass had to vacate its appearance in the 1996 Final Four.
Which kind of makes this a trend, doesn't it?
Again, Calipari was not named in the report, and UK officials said late Wednesday that he has a letter from the NCAA assuring him he is at no risk of being charged with any violations in this case. That's a fact.
But it is also a fact that Calipari's first Final Four was erased from the record books because of Marcus Camby's dealings with an agent, and it's also a fact that Calipari's second Final Four is in danger because of an allegation of "knowing fraudulence or misconduct" on an SAT exam by a player who competed on that second Final Four team.
|Kentucky fans should be worried about this potential Calipari fallout. (Getty Images)|
"This is a University of Memphis issue," read one of the last lines in the statement released by Kentucky, but I respectfully disagree. Best I can tell, this is a Kentucky issue, too, at least in how it provides more bullets for the people who have long had guns aimed at Calipari and/or UK.
Fair or not, everything the Wildcats' new coach accomplished at UMass and Memphis is now tainted, which means everything he's about to accomplish at Kentucky will be accomplished while the average sports fan rolls his eyes.
This is reality.
Because perception is reality.
And when a long-established perception is backed by allegations of major NCAA violations at two different schools, the general public doesn't care about the off-the-hook letters from the NCAA that a coach might possess. Nobody remembers the details, just the headlines.
And the headlines this week from the Home of the Blues to the Bluegrass State and all points in between and around are about how the Memphis program will spend June 6 responding to possible NCAA rules violations that revolve around a player who helped Calipari to a record 38 victories during the 2007-08 season.
That's the story.
It's absolutely a Calipari story.
And though Kentucky fans will dismiss it, it should be pointed out that that's exactly what Memphis fans spent nine years doing. They explained to opposing fans that Calipari had nothing to do with the Camby mess, that it wasn't indicative of anything. But now here they are dealing with similarly damaging allegations of rules violations that happened on Calipari's watch, and it would be naive for UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart to not be concerned, at least a little, because 2-for-2 is 100 percent.
In other words, if Calipari someday leaves Kentucky without the NCAA subsequently accusing the school of operating outside the framework of the rulebook, understand, it'll be the first time he's ever exited a program that way.
Will he raise banners at Rupp Arena?
That's what Calipari does.
He raises banners.
But whether he can keep them in the rafters is now officially up for debate.