John Calipari Gets Memphis in Trouble; Calipari, Kentucky Should Be Ashamed

Justin HokansonSenior Writer IMay 28, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 21:  Head Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers yells and points a finger from the sideline during their second round game against the Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 21, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Tigers defeated the Terrapins 89-70.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

In a report that broke Wednesday night, the Memphis basketball program is facing allegations from the NCAA of allegedly helping a player cheat on his SAT and making payments to an associate of a Memphis player of over $2,000 for travel to road games, all during the 2007-2008 basketball season.

The results of the potential sanctions could include vacating Memphis' wins from that entire season, including their NCAA-record 38 wins and their Final Four appearance.

There's no doubt that Memphis basketball is at a serious crossroads now, and new coach Josh Pastner has his hands full, to say the least.

This isn't about Memphis ultimately, though. This is about John Calipari and the University of Kentucky.

Calipari has always had a reputation as a coach who bends the rules, and in this case maybe breaks them, when it comes to recruiting. When Calipari was at UMass, they had to vacate their wins from their Final Four run with Marcus Camby in 1995-96 because Camby took $28,000 from an agent while in college.

By the way, Calipari is now looking to vacate BOTH of his runs to the Final Four because of NCAA sanctions. That would bring his total back down to a potential zero Final Fours—for those keeping count at home.

Even Calipari's connection with "Worldwide Wes," William Wesley, is well known. The man without a job title but all the connections in the world most likely helped Memphis land Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.

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Back to Calipari and Memphis—just how poorly did Calipari treat Memphis?

Consider that Memphis received the notice of allegations from the NCAA on Jan. 16 of this year. Haven't checked the calendar, but I'm pretty sure that's before Calipari bolted for Kentucky in what he described as the toughest decision of his life.

How hard of a decision do you think that was now?

Calipari knew about the notice of allegations months before he ever had contact with Kentucky. So when Kentucky came calling, you have to wonder just how tough the decision was to leave Memphis for Calipari.

Calipari leaves Memphis for one of the most prestigious jobs in college basketball and leaves behind potential NCAA sanctions that could cripple his chances of ever landing another high-caliber job in the future.

But why stop there if you're Calipari? 

After Calipari bolts Memphis for Kentucky, leaving a program behind that is only months away from facing the NCAA committee on infractions, he decides that isn't enough. So he steals away Memphis' prized recruiting class by bringing stud recruits John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins with him to Kentucky.

Cousins was already committed to Memphis, and Wall was believed to be headed there as well. Wall even pleaded guilty to misdemeanor breaking-and-entering on Wednesday.

Classy guy, that Calipari.

Whatever punishment Memphis might face in the future from this, the NCAA should reduce the normal punishment on Memphis and give the rest to Calipari. The NCAA can't punish Kentucky, Calipari's current program, but Calipari should receive severe sanctions, just like Kelvin Sampson did.

Sampson was basically banned from college basketball for five years, and while it's not a hard and fast ban from the NCAA, the process a school would have to go through to hire Sampson makes it not worth the effort, especially considering his baggage.

So why should Calipari be any different? He's looking at putting two programs on probation now.

Is Kentucky next?

This brings me to the University of Kentucky—a basketball program that prides itself on being one of the most prestigious programs in the country, a program rich in tradition and history. It's a tradition of championships, no doubt, but also a tradition of probation and cheating.

So you would think that Kentucky would be very careful in the process of hiring a coach that has a reputation of being less than clean. So they go hire a coach with a checkered past, in terms of having a reputation of being dirty, but that didn't seem to bother them.

Did Kentucky even place a call to the NCAA for a quick heads-up on Calipari?

Many, including myself, wondered if Kentucky knew what they were getting into when they hired Calipari, and to most, it was a desperate move for a program that just wanted to get back to winning championships.

Well, I hope the Big Blue Nation is happy. Not only did your former coach, Billy Gillispie, file a lawsuit against your University for withholding money he believes is owed to him, but your current coach is now being accused of cheating...again.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart has made himself look silly now with the obvious lack of due process done in the hiring of Calipari—and Memphis won't be the program that receives a black eye from this. John Calipari and Kentucky will be the ones getting hammered in this whole deal.

In the end, maybe Calipari and Kentucky deserve one another. They both will do whatever it takes to win, regardless of the circumstances.