The last couple of days, college basketball's all time winningest coach, Bob Knight, has been the target of all sorts of disapproving talking heads in the sports world. Nothing new here, right?
Knight is under fire for saying at a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame that the NCAA and college basketball lacks integrity. To illustrate his point, Knight cited the example of Kentucky's head coach John Calipari. "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."
John Calipari has the rare distinction of being a coach who took two different teams to the Final Four, Massachusetts and Memphis, only later to have the appearances vacated by the NCAA for rule violations during their Final Four runs.
Both schools, Massachusetts and Memphis, also faced stiff probations as a result of the transgressions under Calipari's watch.
Of course, in each case, Calipari moved on to jobs at new schools before the sanctions could affect his coaching and recruiting efforts.
Knight could not be more right when he criticized the hypocrisy of the NCAA for allowing coaches like Calipari to abandon schools after leaving them crippled with scandal and taking to the bank $4 million paydays while his former players were forbidden from similarly switching schools without having to sit out a year.
Knight's general give-a-damned-ness and his total lack of interest in sucking up and towing the party line, is one of the most refreshing aspects of college sports today.
Personally, I cannot describe how nauseated I regularly becoming when the NCAA rolls out a plethora of television ads during almost every sporting event self-aggrandizing themselves about their impeccable values and dedication to the academic welfare of student-athletes.
The reality is, those ads are paid for partly with dirty money. They are a little different than if Tony Soprano began paying for public service announcements extolling his community good deeds.
The NCAA is an organization that will ruin college player's careers, like it did with Dez Bryant this fall, for lying about an inconsequential matter, but then not penalize repeat offenders like Calipari.
If Knight got anything wrong in this affair, it is that he should have extended his criticisms more directly to both the NCAA and college administrations. Afterall, Kentucky did hire Calipari. Calipari is not really the issue here. He is just an example of a much wider problem in college sports that has at its core the NCAA and college administrators.
My personal favorite example of university administration hypocrisy from this year is the case of Mark Mangino, who was known for his coaching techniques and verbally rough style for all eight years that he was at Kansas.
It did not become an issue until he lost seven games in a row in 2009, whereupon Kansas' athletic director timely decided that it was time to launch an investigation into incidents in Mangino's past from years back.
For full comedic effect, Kansas' athletic director Lew Perkins when asked about why he started the investigation so late in the game, said with a straight face that he "did if for the kids."
Is Kansas hypocritical? You bet. And you could go on and on with examples from other schools. This type of behavior is so commonplace that most people barely take notice of it anymore.
It is clear, like Knight says, that the system is flawed and until major reform happens, it will be exploited by both coaches like Calipari and administrators looking to line their coffers. I, for one, have always wondered if the NCAA would have vacated Calipari's Final Four appearances if the coach had managed to win a National Championship.
It is an interesting question to consider, but the fact that so many have even asked that question, shows the real lack of respect that many fans have for the integrity of the NCAA.