Blog Entry

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Posted on: June 13, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 11:15 am

By Matt Norlander

We couldn't go too, too long this offseason without a Kentucky story, you know?

The latest mini crisis in the Bluegrass State is a debate over the true total amount of wins John Calipari has collected in his career. Calipari has seen two of his seasons -- the two seasons that, coincidentally, featured Final Four appearances -- get wiped out by the NCAA. The first was with the '96 UMass team; the second was the '08 Memphis squad, which was two Derrick Rose free throws away from a championship. Those are now seasons non grata in the NCAA's record books.

This past season, Calipari won his 500th game, or so Kentucky believed and still does. The NCAA thinks otherwise. Those '96 and '08 seasons were vacated, meaning, according to the NCAA, Calipari is stuck at 467 Ws as of now. Kentucky's public acknowledgement of this faux feat has caused the NCAA to pucker its tush and demand an apology -- yes, an apology, a five-page apology, at that. How dare Kentucky make such a big stink over its head coach reaching a milestone few men and women accomplish.

Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader broke the story over the weekend.

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari's 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK's statement "must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release."

Thomas asked UK to respond to the letter no later than next Friday.

Spokesman Jay Blanton said Saturday that UK did not have a comment.

What's fascinating about this should-be non-story: We've go the first case of a school simply refusing to oblige by the NCAA's foolish vacate rule. The NCAA likes to retroactively take away wins and championships. It's one of the weakest, most-mocked "punishments" in sports. And now there's blowback when they didn't expect it.

According to Tipton, if the NCAA doesn't get its apology and some timely changes in the Kentucky media guides and record books, then UK officials will eventually be called to meet with the Committee on Infractions. Yes, the same group of people currently dealing with cheaters at Tennessee and Ohio State. A meeting with the COI? What a gigantic waste of time and fuel that would be. The theater of the absurd is hosting a new act.

We're talking Calipari getting a commemorative basketball and a round of applause for winning 500 games. A quick celebration at Rupp Arena. It's hardly a huge deal. But the NCAA's taking it very seriously, making the entire thing is pretty hilarious. The NCAA can't keep Kentucky from acknowledging Calipari's accomplishment, no matter how much they insist. They can't go back in time and erase the celebration from happening, just like they can't go back and erase seasons or championships from having occurred. What are they going to do, remove Kentucky from NCAA affiliation? Remove scholarships? Of course not. Another PR disaster if they did, especially considering it's Kentucky and Calipari, and both would be looked at sympathetically in this mini drama.

Suddenly the NCAA is looking like the angry neighborhood kid who's not getting its way and wants to take its ball and go home. Two steps forward, one step back with the NCAA. Same as it ever was. I wish we could vacate this kind of birdbrained behavior. 

Category: NCAAB

Since: Jun 1, 2009
Posted on: June 16, 2011 7:57 am

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

The bottom line is that the seasons and final 4's were taken
from UMASS and Memphis.

Cal was never charged with violations, nor did the NCAA ever officially
strip the wins from him.

There is a record(s) to show where Cal was ever stripped of these wins.

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:28 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

So the NCAA wants UK to submit a formal "acknowledgment of error" in public for honoring John Calipari for his 500th win, when the NCAA official records showed him with 42 fewer because of prior vacations of the record.

UK is miffed. It threw this little commemoration together, asked for NCAA input (which should have been "absolutely not"), then went ahead anyway when it didn’t get an outright "no." In no way did the NCAA explicitly authorize the commemoration. UK may have implied some type of permission, but that’s dangerous to do in any circumstance. The NCAA did, however, condone it, which is why I think the NCAA is silly for making a public stink of it now. (The NCAA could have made as big a private stink about it as it wanted, and certainly had grounds to, without making itself look ridiculous.)

Regardless, we have the question of what UK’s response, due by the end of the week, should be.

And rather than just stir things up, this should also be a place where problems come to be solved, or at least pointed at and shamed into solving themselves. I would, a great man once said, rather light than curse your darkness.

So, as I see it, if you’re UK, there are two ways to play it (assuming Sandy Bell doesn’t find a fax containing 42 more Calipari wins in Tubby Smith’s old ):

1). GET IT OVER WITH. Write your mea culpa, send it in, hope it passes the Committee on Infractions censors and then send it out. (If you’re really clever, you could get somebody in the creative writing department over there to write it as an acrostic so the first sentence of every letter spells something like "Go Big Blue" or the subliminal message of your choice. Or, if that’s not your style, write an apology so long and ponderous and ridiculous and beside the point that no one, including the committee on infractions, will get all the way through it.)

Pros: Gets it over with and out of the news cycle, placates the NCAA and really costs you nothing because you already had the celebration and Cal already has the ball and, honestly, he didn’t really have 500 wins and you knew it, and, really, who cares about any of this? The old adage that "It’s easier to seek forgiveness than ask permission" seems in play here, even if it isn’t an NCAA bylaw. Cons: UK, it seems to me, appears to be in no mood to apologize to anybody at the NCAA for anything, and doing so might raise the collective of administration. As well, you add another line, rightly or wrongly, to Calipari’s timeline of of NCAA skirmishes.

2. IGNORE IT. Don’t answer the letter. Don’t say peep. Just let the deadline pass, and when the NCAA summons you to meet face to face with the committee on infractions, you go to the meeting, where you speak only when spoken to, but answer any questions they have.

Pros: Saves you the ignominy of a public apology, or at least delays it. Also gives you a chance to address the NCAA’s concerns face-to-face, rather than via correspondence (and let’s face it, if anybody needs to have a sit-down it’s these two). Cons: Further alienates the NCAA, costs you gas money to Indianapolis and blows the better part of an afternoon.


Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: June 15, 2011 1:21 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Kentucky ignored the pattern and the results when they hired Calipari, why wouldn't they ignore it when they celebrate his vacated wins?

Initial Result
U Mass - Final Four appearance
Final Result
Calipari leaves, wins including Final Four appearance vacated

Initial Result
Memphis - Final Four appearance
Final Result
Calipari leaves, wins including Final Four appearance vacated

Beyond the trail of vacated wins left in Calipari's wake, the other thing Kentucky ignored is the fact that Calipari has entered the NCAA tournament with some of the most talented teams in the country including a #1 overall seed during the Memphis Final Four run. Since he's been at Kentucky, he's never made it past the Final Four either. Now, given enough tries even a blind squirrel gets a nut, but when great coaches have the type of talent Calipari has they win championships. Calhoun at U Conn, Coach K at Duke, Roy Williams, even Billy Donovan at Florida have won multiple national championships when they've had rosters full of NBA talent. You know who hasn't? Calipari. Calipari's legacy will be as a slick recruiter who appeals to the "me first", "one and done" player. To give him his due, it just so happens that most of the best college players are "me first", "one and done" types so Calipari is always at or near the top in recruiting. So the one nice thing about Calipari as your head coach is every year will bring an opportunity for NCAA play because the talent level will always be very high. The down side is Calipari has a history of not making it past the Final Four regardless of his talent level and he doesn't tend to stay in one place for too long and often leaves a mess when he moves on....

Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: June 15, 2011 9:24 am

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

***Let me apologize to you and to all Memphis fan. I am sincere. I simply cannot understand why our programs are attacking each other. We have a common enemy, and it is those shallow retards who represent the NCAA.

It would achieve a great deal more if those that the NCAA has shafted stood together.

I defended Memphis when the NCAA wronged them.

We should focus on our common enemy the Wouiville Red Hens.  You hear that Ville!!!  We're coming for ya boa!  And we're gonna want gravy with our yard bird!

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:46 am

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

fans write all the time claiming that the NCAA is “out to get" them.

I always tell them they're paranoid. Today, I don't know what to tell them.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Saturday that the NCAA has asked UK to apologize publicly for commemorating basketball coach John Calipari's 500th victory last season — ignoring 42 vacated wins from Massachusetts and Memphis that leave him short of that number.

Apparently, there has been quite a back-and-forth going on over this. Of course, UK was wrong. Officially, Calipari stands at 467 wins heading into next season. Why UK decided to celebrate No. 500 when it did is an interesting question. But in the end, we're talking about a postgame handshake, announcement and a presentation of the game ball to Calipari.

In response, the Herald-Leader reports that the NCAA dispatched a five-page letter to UK President Lee Todd asking for a public acknowledgement that UK was wrong, calling its reasoning in holding the celebration “very troubling,” and noting that the NCAA's Committee on Infractions must sign off on the wording of an apology before it is made public. It's a good thing UK didn't get him a cake — it might be facing probation.

First, this is what you get when you needlessly poke the NCAA with a stick. And UK has done a little of that lately, not just with this, but with public comments after the Enes Kanter rulings.

But second, five pages? The NCAA notice of allegations to Ohio State for football violations last year was only eight pages. Committee on Infractions? What infraction? Lack of statistical control?

Am I wrong, or is the NCAA attempting to get a school to vacate a celebration of fictitious victories? Is any of this really happening? Am I really writing this column? Who's running things at the NCAA, Rene Descartes? The NCAA had better be careful, because all this sounds eerily similar to leaked plotlines for The Hangover III.

Calipari even did a postgame interview with Dan Bonner talking about his 500th win. Now, you can vacate a commemoration. You can take back a handshake. You can asterisk a game ball. But hoops fans, Bonner is forever.

Worst of all — the NCAA now has given UK conspiracy theorists new ammunition. Because last September, Massachusetts inducted Marcus Camby into its athletic Hall of Fame. It didn't just give him a game ball and a handshake, it gave him the full Hall of Fame treatment, including a bio of his accomplishments.

Which includes victories that were vacated (because of Camby) and records that were wiped from the NCAA books. UMass, in fact, still has a Final Four banner hanging in its arena.

And if UMass has been asked to apologize, I missed it.

The NCAA said UK could recognize Calipari's wins; it just needed to “account” for the vacated wins. UK should've hired one of those fast talkers from prescription drug ads to whip through the fine print after honoring Calipari for his 500th.

Because it didn't, it's now going to have to suffer one of the side effects — apologize or risk a face-to-face meeting with the NCAA.

If I were UK compliance director Sandy Bell, I think my letter would read something like: “Dear public: Our bad. Sincerely, UK.”

The NCAA does have a point here. UK honoring Calipari showed a disregard for serious actions the NCAA took in the past against teams he coached. I'm not saying the NCAA is wrong, I'm saying it's silly. And inconsistent. It should've left this one alone.

Calipari might well laugh all the way to the Final Four — where he could celebrate his real No. 500 with the whole NCAA watching.


Since: Jun 1, 2009
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:16 am

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Thanks Maxpbs8.  It looks like both teams will have a good 2011/12 season.  It is refreshing to hear a KY fan who understands we are not stupid (like one of your fans continues to post).  Most of us have blamed the NCAA from the beginning.  Not once, but twice, they cleared Rose to play and then after the season ended, changed their mind.  Also, they never proved he did not take the test.  Regardless, everyone remembers the season and the run we made.  Here's hoping both teams have successful seasons in spite of the NCAA. 


***Let me apologize to you and to all Memphis fan. I am sincere. I simply cannot understand why our programs are attacking each other. We have a common enemy, and it is those shallow retards who represent the NCAA.

It would achieve a great deal more if those that the NCAA has shafted stood together.

I defended Memphis when the NCAA wronged them.

Since: Apr 30, 2008
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:16 am

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

I can't believe some of the responses i am seeing. Seems like the only people making a big deal of this is Kentucky and, their fans.

 Other schools have been in the same situation, some even getting Championship Seasons taken away. I sure don't remember this being a problem once the ruling was made.

Once a ruling was made more schools than i could list on this page complied and, got over it which is what Kentucky should have done, complied and got over it. You see it is Kentucky that needs to get over them selves, not the NCAA. That is why there is a NCAA and, the rules that follow them.

The only sensible post i have seen so far said this, that is why there is an NCAA and rules, if there wasn't there would be a lot more schools and, coaches cheating".

 The only problem here is that is Kentucky basketball we are talking about and, being so Kentucky thinks they are bigger than the NCAA. Well they better back up and think again because they are not bigger and, if Kentucky doesn't watch out the NCAA is going to reach out and slap them back to reality.

Which is what will happen and should happen if NCAA is challenged much more by Kentucky's Athletic Department. Who does Kentucky think they are? Bigger than the ruling body of NCAA Division schools? Please you Kentuckians better recognize while you still can before getting that slap down.

You might just be whining a lot more about something other schools already know.

;     &nbs
p;     &nb
sp;     &n
bsp;     &
;     &nbs

Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:13 am

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

This entire situation is ridiculous. 

Since the NCAA is "all-mighty" and like to think they can rewrite I can understand why they dont want the vacated wins acknowledged.  However, the 500 hundred wins did happen.  Those who played in the games, winners and losers, know they happened and the tapes can be pulled from the archives to prove that they happened.  So no matter how much belly aching the NCAA does the fact of the matter is Calipari did achieve 500 wins.  Now the NCAA might only want to recognize 467 of them but he does have 500.

Besides all UK did was give him the game ball and a standing ovation, whats the big deal about that.

In the end Kentucky should just apologize and change the programs.  Then when he gets 500 AGAIN, throw a bigger and better celebration.

Since: Oct 28, 2007
Posted on: June 14, 2011 10:59 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

lee 3022

Did Enes Kanter practice with the UK team after being declared ineligible? According to Josh Harrellson he did. Which is a rule violation that surely Calipari knew about. But perhaps you would say: 'no big deal'.
Yes, I would say no big deal, since from what I understand the guidlines permitted him to continue to practice with them team.  He was not allowed to play or travel with the team. 

I wholeheartedly agree with the last statement by Matt, it is clear the NCAA has their panties in a wad over this one.  Sure, ask for a correction, but demanding an acceptable 5 page apology...get over yourself NCAA.  Maybe once you start consistently representing the best interest of college sports and not the best interest of the people with $$$, maybe then I will give a rip what you say!

Since: Mar 23, 2008
Posted on: June 14, 2011 7:13 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Simple have other schools who have been forced to vacate wins handled this situation with their coaches (i.e. Lute Olson, Larry Brown, Gene Keady, Jim Calhoun, Nick Saban, Bobby Bowden, Steve Fisher, Steve Lavin, Bill Frieder, Wimp Sanderson, Norm Stewart, Jim Valvano, etc...yup, all those guys have had to vacate wins)? And has the NCAA scrutinized them the way they have UK and John Calipari in this case? My guess is no...which why the NCAA is a f'in joke. 

Looks like this will be more "us against the world" material for Calipari to use to his advantage. Thanks Laughing 

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