Merky Kentucky Knight 12/19/2009Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: bob knight, john calapari, Kentucky, memphis, ncaa basketball, sanctions, Umass
“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching. You see we’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on
probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that.”
With those words, former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight called out the University of Kentucky, their new head coach John Calapari, and the NCAA. While Knight, the leader in NCAA career victories, was no stranger to controversy as a coach, his programs never incurred NCAA wrath for recruiting violations. Knight may have thrown a chair onto the court during a game, aboused his players both physically and emotionally, and even had an arrest warrant issued against him in Puerto Rico while coaching the USA national team, but his programs were never sanctioned by the NCAA for cheating. I bring up Knight’s past because many out there are shooting the messenger rather than hearing the message. Knight was no saint. But he knows what he is talking about. Calapari’s response? He said he still respects Knight as a coach.
While it is true that Calapari has not been personally accused of wrong doing, it is hardly a coincidence that his two previous
collegiate coaching stops were wildly successful, and ended in NCAA sanctions for improprieties. Is it any coincidence that both UMass and Memphis had to vacate Final Four appearances made while Calapari was the coach? I think not. Calapari has shown the will to do whatever it takes to win. The surprise to me is that anyone would expect anything less than this from Kentucky. The University of Kentucky basketball program is the institutional embodiment of win at any cost. While Kentucky is the sports winningest program, it is also one of its most often punished. Kentucky has been placed on probation by the NCAA in the 1920’s, 50’s and 80’s. Calapari and Kentucky are made for each other. They are a match made somewhere lower than heaven. Kentucky is off to a 10-0 start. There is no doubt that the Wildcats will win under Calapari. There will be a championship or two. But then there will be the fall out. Kentucky will end up answering once again to the NCAA.
But it will be OK. Because between then and now there will be a lot of wins. There will be a lot of publicity. There will be a lot of cash. No one in Kentucky will care about paying the piper’s due untill the bill comes, just as surely as the good times rolled in UMass and Memphis before the sanctions. Kentucky has been through this before, and they know what they are getting in to.
None of that changes the validity of the question that Knight posed. What is the NCAA thinking? I hope I am wrong, but watch all the hand wringing and claims of deniability when the poop hits the fan in Kentucky. It will happen.