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: Jan 22, 2008
Posted on: June 14, 2011 6:56 pm

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. 

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: June 14, 2011 6:53 pm

NCAA determines who wins

Matt, you usually get things right here. On this you, you got it wrong.

Kentucky does not determine how many wins coach Calipari has accumulated. They have published a false report. Some would even call it fraudulent since they were surely aware of its falsehood. And you say it is not a big deal. Coincidently the vacated seasons were Final Four seasons? No, fraudently they were Final Four seasons since they were won with ineligible players. That is why they were vacated. If the NCAA allows a coach or school to retain championships they win with ineligible players, there will be a whole lot more coaches and schools cheating. If wins are allowed to stand when achieved by cheating then what is the point of having rules?

In this case John Calipari is infamous for his two hall of shame seasons. In each case he landed a more lucrative gig, while leaving behind disaster at UMass and Memphis. The NCAA is absolutely right to enforce its rules and its punishments. Even UK must know they cannot win against the NCAA. But of course the UK fans are next in line to be devastated by their coach's ignoring the rules. Before you say that is all in the past and not coach Calipari, let us ask: 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'.

Can the NCAA do anything about this? Of course they can - ever hear of a show cause? Open defiance of the NCAA can cause more grief than it is worth. The anti-UK crowd (I don't consider myself one - yet) surely far outnumbers the UK fans, as numerous as they are. Having come this far, the NCAA is not backing down now. So what is the problem with a simple retraction and apology? Ego? Better to not mess with the NCAA. It is like sending a load of manure to the IRS. They got caught being fraudulent and now they make amends.

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: June 14, 2011 6:01 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Blueinmemphis, I definitely agree that this is an insigificant matter in light of all the other things going on at OSU, Tennessee, SDSU, and others.  Still, It seems like Kentucky could have avoided the controversy by having the recognition take place at a local event, not at an NCAA basketball game.  It's almost as if Kentucky is trying to tweak the NCAA, and I just think their fight should be a more mature approach.  The NCAA is in serious need of reform, and Kentucky is big and powerful enough to spearhead that movement.  The other big schools would probably go along with a reform movement if it followed an established protocol, but when Kentucky tries to bring about change by having a public feud with the NCAA, it looks like a unilateral move to gain an advantage on the other members.

Kentucky and its fans obviously know that the rest of the nation recognizes the coaching wins sanctioned by the NCAA.  Right or wrong, that's the accepted source for most Americans who care about such things.

Since: Jul 30, 2009
Posted on: June 14, 2011 4:38 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

A final comment, MrG3.  Exactly which NCAA rules were broken with UK's little acknowledgment ceremony?  I doubt very seriously that it did.  And that's the point.  The NCAA has all of these other "fish to fry" in Tennessee, Ohio State, etc. and yet they waste their time on something they can't control, and that I believe is no big deal. 

Calipari was exonerated BY THE NCAA in each of the instances at UMASS and Memphis.  If he had been convicted, or if he had simply slid by with no comment from the NCAA, I could understand the outrage.  But the NCAA, IN WRITING, specifically stated that Calipari was not at fault in either instance. 

I get it that the NCAA vacated the wins and they don't want them celebrated.  But sometimes you make a bigger problem when you try to fix something that's not fixable.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: June 14, 2011 4:28 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

It's only a matter of time until Kentucky will be having wins vacated because Caliperi . . . yet again . . . will get a school in trouble.  He's done it twice already . . . and he'll do it again!

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: June 14, 2011 4:28 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Also, I've seen Sandy Bell's name a thousand times.  All the Kentucky fans trot her name out and say she is the best compliance officer in all of college sports.  Really?  Who says?  Was there a vote, or did she win the college-compliance trophy in some sort of competition?

She may be very good, and she may be by-passed entirely by a coach who knows better than to ask permission before forgiveness.  If I'm not mistaken, she was the compliance director at UMass when they got slammed by the NCAA.  Pardon the rest of AMerica for not holding Ms. Bell in the same high esteem as does Mr. Calipari and the Wildcat fanbase.  Her name could be Dennis Rodman, and people wouldn't be any more or less impressed.

Since: Jul 30, 2009
Posted on: June 14, 2011 4:28 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Good point about UK not proclaiming these were NCAA sanctioned wins.  It's still a body of work for Calipari that should be acknowledged.  What if UK wanted to acknowledge NAIA or JUCO or HS wins?  Would the NCAA say UK can't acknowledge those because they weren't NCAA approved and verified?

I get the point of the NCAA.  When games are vacated, it's a serious issue.  However, they had better make sure every banner is pulled down from every school that recognizes games that were vacated.  They had better check every school brochure and publication that recognizes vacated wins.

They make themselves out to be the Gestapo when they throw the gauntlet down on UK, but can't make the same assurances about other schools.

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: June 14, 2011 4:21 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

I'm not against Kentucky or anyone else, but why would they not just agree to follow NCAA guidelines on total wins for Calipari, unless they are looking to push buttons?

The NCAA and the BCS are definitely a mess, but rules are in place (yes, many of them are stupid!) that everyone is expected to follow.  The way to change that is by challenging the rules in question by the established procedures.  Breaking the rules and then saying you don't care about them is like a junior high student breaking the dress code to see how far he can push the limits.  It places the school in the position of enforcing the rule, or caving in; caving in means the students run the school.

If Calipari's 500 win celebration was intended to be "just" by Kentucky's own standards, then the recognition ceremony shouldn't be held during an NCAA-sanctioned event.  The other school involved didn't show up to watch a ceremony based on Kentucky-only standards.  Had the ceremony been held when Calipari really wins his 500th sanctioned game, then it's appropriate.

By the way, will there be a ceremony, or indeed, mention of the 500th sanctioned win, or can we just ignore that milestone?  Or did the "Kentucky standards" ceremony take care of the matter?

Since: Apr 12, 2007
Posted on: June 14, 2011 4:04 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

Specifically in response to mr_g3:  KentuckY has THE best compliance officer (Sandy Bell) in the nation!  So get your facts straight before you come at KentuckY for compliance issues.  And she is why KentuckY has not had nor will they have any serious compliance issues as long as she is there b/c, the truth is, Sandy runs that office and CoachCal reports to her on all things compliance related.

This is 100% about the NCAA being a bunch of morons.  All KentuckY did was give CoachCal a basketball and a round of applause for reaching 500 wins; which he DID.  They didn't say 500-sanctioned NCAA approved wins.  They didn't say 500 OFFICIAL NCAA wins.  They simply acknowledged his 500 win milestone which, despite your biased view, is a fact that neither you nor the ncaa can refute or take or wish away.

99% of the comments and people on this issue are against the ncaa on this issue; which is everyone with a brain.  The ncaa is acting like a petulant little stubborn, stuck-up, snot-nosed, bratty child.

Keep this crap up and coupled w/ the on-going BCS fiasco and the ncaa's will cease to exist.
One way or the other:  Common-Sense Prevails in the End!

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: June 14, 2011 4:03 pm

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total

College athletes already have a leg up on most non-athlete students.  They have scholarship money that pays for school.  They have a coach and a support staff looking out for their needs (legally) by providing extra help in the form of tutoring, grant money, travel expenses, and other essentials, if needed.  They have at least some of their meals provided to them by the universities.

The average student has none of this.  Just because the NCAA and the schools make money doesn't mean they have to dole it out to the athletes.  Besides, which athletes will get paid, and how much?  Does that lacrosse player deserve as much as the football star?  It's a Pandora's box, and it would no doubt lead to abuse and corruption.  PAID ATHLETES work for professional teams, and that's not what collegiate athletics is about.

You know, a lot of us "normal" people work for gigantic corporations, or even governments, that have a lot of resources at their disposal.  ALL of us could be paid more than we are, but that isn't what happens in the real world.  Students don't get paid to attend colleges, and that should hold true for ALL of the students.

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