Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Just In From Lexington: Some Perspective

Brian: Not a very memorable 24 hours for you Kentucky Wildcats hoops fan out there.

First, there’s this business about major violations in the Memphis basketball program under (then Memphis and now Kentucky) coach John Calipari:
The University of Memphis is responding to an NCAA notice of allegations charging the men's basketball program with major violations during the 2007-08 season under John Calipari.

The allegations include "knowing fraudulence or misconduct" on an SAT exam by a player on the 2007-08 team, widely reported to be Derrick Rose. The player's name is redacted in the NCAA's notice of allegations, but the description of the player in the notice also pointed to Rose.

To make matters worse, this whole thing appears to be only an University of Memphis issue:
First and foremost, there are no NCAA allegations against UK Head Men's Basketball Coach John Calipari. Coach Calipari was forthcoming with the University of Kentucky during the hiring process about any issues under investigation at the University of Memphis at that time. It is normal procedure for the NCAA to ask a former coach to participate in a hearing. Therefore, Coach Calipari will participate as requested.

Coach John Calipari has received a letter from the NCAA stating that he is not at risk of being charged with any NCAA violations in this case.

This is a University of Memphis issue and the University of Kentucky will not comment any further.

Sounds like Calipari will (again) pull an Andy Dufrense - crawl through a river of shit and come out clean on the other side. "Again" as in, haven’t we heard this story before? To wit, that little business about Marcus Camby and an agent that went down some 85 miles down the Mass Pike? Coincidence? You decide.

But wait, there's more from Lexington!
Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie is seeking more than $6 million from the UK Athletics Association in a federal lawsuit alleging breach of contract and fraud. The 24-page lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, argues that the athletics department should pay the coach an untold amount in damages and attorney fees in addition to the $6 million Gillispie says he’s owed for being fired two years into a seven-year term.

But did you think the Wildcats were just going to roll over and pay the man? Of course not. This just in:
The University of Kentucky has sued former basketball coach Billy Gillispie the day after Gillispie filed suit against the school claiming breach of contract.

Kentucky contends Gillispie never signed a formal contract but was working under a memorandum of understanding when he was fired after last season. The two sides are clashing over whether a buyout clause in that memorandum is binding. That would require the school to pay him $1.5 million for four of five years left on his contract.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for UK, the three ring traveling circus rolls on ...
John Wall, who will be attending Calipari University, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to the breaking and entering of an abandoned house in Raleigh. Wall’s record won’t take a hit since he entered a first time offenders program.

Is it over yet? No, wait. One more. Not only did Derrick Rose allegedly cheat on his SATs, but today the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Rose's high school grades were boosted.

Indeed. When it rains, it pours.

Special shout out to the consensus #1 2009 recruit in the country, last year's #1 overall NBA draft pick, John Calipari, Billy Gillispie and the University of Kentucky for making headlines left and right in an otherwise slow sports news week. Seriously - the only thing else we got is the Scripps National Spelling Bee!

At this point, you may be asking yourself, why am I telling you all this? Well, I think Eagles fans can look at Kentucky and gain a healthy bit of perspective on the state of the Eagles men's basketball program.

Sometimes it is easy to cast stones at Al Skinner. I am as guilty of this as the next avid fan. You can bemoan Skinner for not teaching his team how to beat a full-court press, a lack of in-game adjustments, banking scholarships and not signing 1 recruit for the class of 2009?! (Not 1??), or not showing the slightest bit of emotion while sitting the bench.

And it is equally easy to pick on BC given that we lead college basketball in the most infamous of team statistics – most NCAA tournament wins without reaching the Final Four (22 and counting, holding off those pesky Crimson Tide by a game!).

But baring a few run-ins with the law the last few years, mostly drug-related, Skinner has run a fairly clean program. We seem to have done it the right way. The men's program has come a long way since Henry Hill and Rick Kuhn, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.

In college basketball, success sometimes can come at a cost.

Would it be nice to see the Eagles eventually make a Final Four one of these years? Absolutely, but you have to ask yourself at what cost?

For example, if the NCAA forces Memphis to vacate last year's Final Four appearance over these major violations, that will make 2 Final Four appearances (of 3 total) vacated by the program. And [Calipari's high-profile, one-and-done, #1 NBA draft pick NAME REDACTED] can join the names Kiki Vandeweghe, Rod Foster, Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor, Louis Bullock, Marcus Camby and Boban Savovic on the NCAA Final Four wall of shame.

So if given the choice of never seeing the Eagles make a Final Four in my lifetime, or seeing them reach the Final Four only to have those wins vacated by the NCAA, I'll take what's behind Door #1. I'll be perfectly content with the Eagles having the same number of Final Four appearances as UMass* and one less than Memphis**.

I'll be the first to admit that Skinner is not and should not be beyond reproach, but in light of the storm swirling over Lexington the past 24 hours, today it doesn't seem all that bad.

2 comments:

ConlonC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
conlonc said...

Well said gents. Perspective is a lost art in the sports world.

I would like to note that while we are first in tourney wins without a FF appearance, we are tied for 5th for most appearances without a FF and are behind only Mizzou for number of tourney games played without making a FF.