Kentucky Wildcats Basketball

Knight's Credibility Allows for Comments on John Calipari

Gary Mook/Getty Images
Cole ClaybournCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2009

It's been a few days since Bob Knight's comments on Kentucky coach John Calipari, but tempers and emotions about the issue are as high as ever.

People have had time to look at Knight's comments, ponder the issue at hand, and form their own opinion about the comments, Calipari's integrity, or even both. 

But let's look at the facts.

Calipari has indeed left two schools that were forced to vacate their Final Fours the year after he left. He has indeed had two star players (both pivotal to the respective Final Four runs of both schools) questioned about eligibility, leaving both schools on probation.

It was only a matter of time before people could stop turning their heads from this ongoing issue of integrity in college basketball. Once the NBA enforced a rule that required athletes to attend college for at least one year before entering the draft, many of the standards that embodied university athletics took a backseat.

Knight noticed this and said what many people have wanted to say for a while.

"We've gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that's why I'm glad I'm not coaching," he said. "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."

Knight then went on to talk about a fact that many fans are unaware of.

"Very few people know this, but a kid can play the first semester as a freshman, pass six hours of anything and play in the NCAA tournament without ever attending a class in the second semester," he said. "I don't think that's right."

Knight suggested that universities require their athletes to provide grade reports before entering the NCAA tournament to determine if a player is eligible.

Knight, a guy who undoubtedly did several things wrong during his time as a coach, was absolutely right on this.

The argument that Knight lacks integrity and credibility to talk about this issue is a weak one at best. His past issues have little to no relevance to Calipari's.

If Knight were to call Calipari out on handling his temper, then sure, I'd say that Knight was speaking hypocritically. 

But he didn't.

This is an issue regarding academic standards and integrity in college basketball, something Knight prided himself on as a coach. 

He ran one of the cleanest programs in the country when at Indiana and was annually in the top five as far as graduation rates. He knew the true meaning of student-athlete, not athlete-student as it's become over the years.

Moreover, his goal was not to just win at all costs, but to make the student-athletes better young men while making them better athletes. 

Calipari didn't adamantly deny Knight's claims, leaving one to wonder if there was some truth to his comments.

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