The Devil Wears Armani: How Kentucky Is Selling Its Soul for Wins

Daniel MuthSenior Analyst IAugust 22, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 26:  Head Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers adjusts his team against the Missouri Tigers in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium on March 26, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In art and literature, the Devil is often outwardly portrayed as a hideous beast with horns and goat-legs and flame-red skin.

Some renditions of the Devil show him more like Nosferatu, drawn and gaunt, with a twisted face and coal-black eyes.

Often the beast wears tattered robes or nothing at all to help portray a lack of civility that somehow departs from the humane.

Always, the creature is meant to look frightening.

In real-life however, the devil never shows up looking so obvious.  In a time of gigantic Ponzi schemes, wider system-level Wall Street fraud, ambulance chasers, and corrupt politicians, the devil is more likely to be wearing a suit and tie, maybe handsome with slicked back hair and an easy cocksure manner.

And the Devil will promise you things.

He might promise you an unrealistic return on your investments. He might promise to fight for the people and then line his pockets with campaign contributions. He might promise an easy solution to a complicated problem, or he might promise a hungering fanbase a return to national supremacy.

The problem with making deals with the Devil, of course, is that in the end, there is often a hefty payment that must be extracted, the type of payment that the Memphis men's basketball team seems poised to pay now.

And it also must be recognized that the devil only succeeds against the vainglorious, the lazy, the desperate, and the slovenly. 

It is human weakness that he so cleverly exploits, whispering his fragrant prose about getting something for nothing: fortune, fame, and championships.

He promises the quick and the easy, while the terms of the deal are coded in the fine print to be discovered after it's too late.

And so when I read the Governor of Kentucky thinks John Calipari is an "upstanding guy," and that the President of the University of Kentucky feels that the quagmire left behind by Calipari at both Memphis and UMass is "not a University of Kentucky issue," and that the Wildcat faithful are mostly behind this dude despite full knowledge of his nefarious past, one can only assume that they've already signed their name on that dotted line.

The dotted line.  The one from which there is no return.

An "upstanding guy," Mr. Governor?

It is no coincidence that Calipari finally decided to jump ship to Kentucky on the eve of major NCAA sanctions accusing Memphis star Derrick Rose of having another person take his SAT exam for him.

"Not a University of Kentucky issue," Mr. President?

Last time I checked, this guy was the head coach of your basketball team, and it is no coincidence that Calipari has now become the first coach in NCAA history to have the illustrious distinction of having not one, but two Final Four teams wiped from the books due to NCAA violations.

In their lust for wins and a return of their once glorious basketball program, it would appear that the Kentucky fanbase has been seduced by the Devil's guile.

They don't think they have, of course. They never do.

But it's not too late, Kentucky fans...not yet.

It's time for you to demand a short exit for the smooth talker with the slicked-back hair who promises something for nothing.

It's time for you to make a statement that your beloved school's integrity doesn't have a win/loss price tag on it.

If not, then you're committing the unpardonable sin of entering into this contract with your eyes wide open. There is no naivete that can be claimed when it comes to Calipari, and there will be no sympathy when his price is extracted.

This is America and the Devil wears Armani.

So do the right thing and save your soul.


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