NCAA Basketball: A Double Standard, and a Bar of Soap

David ScercyCorrespondent IJune 10, 2009

HOUSTON - MARCH 28:  Head coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers reacts during the third round game of the South Regional against the Michigan St. Spartans as part of 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on March 28, 2008 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

We often look at society with the beliefs that the words “cheat” and “lie” could be used in almost everyone’s vocabulary. Let’s be honest, how many of us can say we have never cheated on a test in High School? What about just a tiny little lie to get us out of the jam we were in?

Then there’s that time we let that four letter word slip, then find ourselves sucking down a bar of soap giving to us by our mother.

It’s uncommon to go through life and not bend the rules. If the shortcut is there, most of the time we take it, hoping to avoid the briar-patch that’s waiting to stick you.

But one thing is for sure when the rules get bent…you get caught, you pay the price. Well, some of us do.

The NCAA is going to allow newly hired University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari to walk away from the mess he left behind at the University of Memphis with no repercussions.

As most college basketball fans know, it’s not the first time Calipari has been caught violating the NCAA rulebook. But this time he may be swift enough to dodge the bullet. I guess that’s what experience can do for you. You know what they say, practice makes perfect.

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From 1988–96 at the University of Massachusetts, Calipari led the Minutemen program to a number of conference titles and NCAA Tournament appearances, including periods where the program was ranked first nationally. He finished with a 189–70 record overall, with a 91–41 record in Atlantic 10 conference games.

It’s no doubt that Calipari had it clicking at UMass and no one could argue that he couldn’t coach a men’s college basketball team. Coach Calipari led UMass to its first ever Final Four with Naismith Player of the Year Marcus Camby.

Later, the Final Four banner was stripped from UMass by the NCAA, as it was proven that Camby received a fairly generous $28,000 “gift” from a couple agents. Of course, before the allegations were proven true, Calipari had already bailed from UMass for the NBA.


After a brief stint in the NBA, Calipari landed a job back into the NCAA as the Head Coach of the University of Memphis in 2000. Calipari constructed Memphis into a powerhouse, even if the Conference they played in was anything but a powerhouse.

In nine seasons, Calipari won 252 games at Memphis. An incredible number for any coach at any school at the NCAA level. He was 2-free throws away from a National Championship is 2008, free throws that didn’t drop for them but a three pointer by Kansas’ Mario Chalmers that did drop.

So this is where we stand. The report from the NCAA reads, “knowing of fraudulent and misconduct” on an SAT exam by who is believed to be Derrick Rose. But wait, although this happened under Calipari’s direction he was never named in the report.

Memphis could face major disciplinary action including the stripping of the 2008 Final Four banner and having wins removed from their record. Of course, before the allegations are proven true, Calipari has already bailed from Memphis for the blue grass in Kentucky.


You would have to be blind to think that Calipari is not one of the best head coaches in the game. There is no doubt that Kentucky is a good fit for him. But looking at his actions since he has been hired, one has to wonder whether or not he is already burning bridges in Lexington.

Instead of coming into UK with a clean slate, Calipari has begun telling UK scholarship basketball commitments “you just aren’t good enough”, even after they turned down other offers and accepted Kentucky’s offer, a promise written out in black and white.

This should be a message to future prospects, if they offer and you sign, there is no guarantee Calipari won’t find someone better, and ignore honoring your scholarship.

The NCAA took a stand against Kelvin Sampson, who is currently banned from the sidelines in NCAA basketball. They also were preparing to cut throat Tim Floyd, who just announced his resignation at USC.

Why is it so easy for them to allow the antics, lying, and cheating from Calipari? Is it because he is so marketable? Is it because the NCAA wants the University of Kentucky to be successful again?

One could only speculate the theory behind why they ignore his behavior.

Most fans will not dispute how good Calipari will be in Kentucky. We all pretty much know UK will be in the Final Four within the next two or three years, if not sooner. But what good does a Final Four do, if in a few years it gets stripped from you?

At some point in time the NCAA Committee should evaluate themselves on this subject, and really ask themselves why certain punishments are carried out to only a handful, while others are immune from the punishment.

If they look really hard in the mirror, they will notice how dirty their hands are, and wash the dirt away and do what’s right. And in that same moment, they should take that bar of soap, and wash their mouths out, just like momma use to do.


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