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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Some Question Whether UK Has Done The Neccesary Background Check And Ask: Is [John] Calipari The Right Guy For UK [Basketball]?

Read more here, or excerpts below:

An open letter to University of Kentucky President Lee Todd:

Re: What appears to be the impending hiring by UK of John Calipari as its men's basketball coach.

The present athletics administration at the University of Kentucky has never seemed especially adept at conducting thorough background checks on major coaching hires.

In 2002, Kentucky found itself on NCAA probation in football. Yet UK went out and hired a new football coach (Rich Brooks) without even checking to see whether that coach had a history of NCAA violations in his past (he did).

Then, in 2007, Kentucky was seeking to fill its men's basketball head coaching position. Which only happens to be one of the most high-profile jobs in all of American sports.

In filling this vital public relations-oriented job, UK's background check failed to identify that it was offering the position to a prickly introvert (Billy Gillispie) prone to extreme mood swings.

Given the past performance, Dr. Todd, you'll forgive me for being skeptical that the background check UK will run on John Calipari will actually ask the questions that need to be raised.

So, Dr. Todd, let's address some of the questions you better have asked of Calipari before giving him the keys to our state's signature college sports program.

Question One: Who is William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley and what role does he play in Calipari's recruiting?

The short answer is that Wesley is a behind-the-scenes figure believed in recent years to have "steered" high-profile recruits Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans to Memphis.

Wesley's ties to Calipari go back to the recruitment of former Memphis star Dajuan Wagner (the son of former Louisville player Milt Wagner). Wesley was Dajuan's godfather. ...

Now, maybe there is nothing wrong with this relationship. Or maybe "Worldwide Wes" and his tie with Calipari are the next big recruiting scandal waiting to explode.

With your legacy at UK at stake, Dr. Todd, are you sure that's a risk worth running?

Question Two: What kind of discipline exists inside a John Calipari-run program?

You'll recall in 2002, Dr. Todd, all the local angst that was created during the Team Turmoil season.

That season, Kentucky had two players get in a fight (over a girl, apparently) on the team plane and two underage UK players get busted for trying to use fake IDs to get into a local club.

It all had the locals in a tizzy.

Well, compared to what's gone on among the players at Memphis, that kind of stuff seems quaint.

Question Three: What exactly is the relationship between Calipari-coached players and agents?

As is well known, Calipari's 1996 Final Four team at Massachusetts was forced by the NCAA to "vacate" its tournament results because star center Marcus Camby was being paid by an agent.

Calipari's sympathizers always point out that the coach was not found personally culpable in the UMass scandal.

Which is true.

But wouldn't you think a coach who had been "victimized" by such a scenario would be especially vigilant that another such case not happen on his watch? ...

But, Dr. Todd, you might want to ask yourself if there is a pattern at work.

In fact, you might want to ask Calipari why the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked in that same Nov., 21, 2006, column why a man "with known connections to agents" was "regularly showing up at practices" during the 2005-06 Memphis season.

We'll end, Dr. Todd, with some questions you ought to be asking yourself.

Like what is the all-fire hurry in this coaching search? After Billy Donovan said no the last time, you rushed and made a colossal hiring mistake.

Now, you are flirting with hiring a coach whose background screams out for a thorough investigation, and it appears you are closing the deal in three days.


Dr. Todd, you talked often about being the president who was going to end UK's cycle of one major sports scandal a decade.

Is the hire you are about to make consistent with that goal?

Kentucky's choice isn't hire John Calipari or never win big again.

There are several coaches who I believe are available right now — Sean Miller; Travis Ford; maybe Thad Matta or even the best coach in the country, Tom Izzo — who are capable of winning at Kentucky at the level UK wants to win.

No, Dr. Todd, the question here is whether Kentucky is back to trying to win at all costs or whether it is going to try to win with honor.

If it's the latter, Dr. Todd, can you really hire John Calipari?

Editor's comment: These are very valid questions (with valid comments) that deserve answers before a new Coach (like John Calipari) is hired for UK Basketball.



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