Kentucky Flunks Economics on Calipari
As if there were any doubt Kentucky has sold its soul for basketball glory, its $4-million-a-year coach is about to get more money.
Wow, imagine what John Calipari would be worth if his team's GPA were higher than Kentucky's equestrian team.
Not the riders' GPA, the horses'.
"I'm extremely proud of what Coach Calipari has done in just one year as the leader of our men's basketball program," athletic director Mitch Barnhart said.
Pride is measured by one thing at Kentucky -- wins. That was almost always the case, but now there's no pretense that the school is anything more than a basketball weigh station for NBA wannabes.
That would include Calipari, who's using his 35-3 debut to leverage a sweeter deal. Apparently, it's harder to get by in Lexington on a guaranteed $32 million than he first thought.
So Calipari's name somehow was floated as a possible replacement for Vinny Del Negro with the Chicago Bulls. That sent the Kentucky administration into DEFCON 1.
The school is working on a deal Barnhart said will keep Calipari at Kentucky for the rest of his career or until Indiana offers him $6 million a year -- whichever comes first.
I don't blame Calipari for squeezing another few years or so out of the Wildcats. He's a born shyster. Working every angle is what he does.
The fault goes to Kentucky, which is merrily enabling such behavior. Calipari is already the country's highest-paid college basketball coach. If an eight-year, $32-million contract won't buy his loyalty, what makes Barnhart think $40 million over 10 years will?
The school is caught in the Calipari Vortex. He brings success, but it comes with a price beyond his hefty paycheck. Just ask UMass and Memphis, where Calipari beat it out of town just ahead of the NCAA posse.
Calipari is the Al Capone of college basketball. Despite the trail of blood and corpses, all the Feds could pin on Capone was tax evasion. Despite the trail of payoffs and SAT fraud, the only thing Calipari's been convicted of is being a mercenary.
Is it any surprise last season's four fabulous freshmen have declared for the NBA draft? Look at their role-model coach.
He has established Kentucky as the One-and-Done capital of America. I know it's expecting too much for a recruit to fall in love with a great university, much less know who Adolph Rupp was. But they could at least carry a textbook while pretending to be college students.
That's not totally accurate, since somebody must have opened a book for the team to get its 2.025 GPA for the fall semester. That was the worst of Kentucky's 20 athletic teams and the lowest for the basketball team since 2002.
It's not as if renting players is the only way to succeed these days. Duke had a 3.01 team GPA last fall. Kansas managed a 2.95.
Rick Pitino's Louisville team had a 3.0 GPA last fall. But the only numbers that really mattered were 71-62, which is what the Wildcats beat Louisville by.
Kentucky officials say their young basketball scholars had it tougher due to the coaching transition. They point out that while Calipari was at Memphis, 19 of the 22 players who stayed four years graduated.
If you're in school four years with all the best tutors on campus, shouldn't you graduate? Calipari was at Memphis nine years. How many players never sniffed a diploma?
Kentucky's GPA will probably sink further when winter semester grades arrive. A lot of players didn't need to pass anything since they knew they weren't sticking around after the NCAA Tournament. We're just a toga party away from a real-life Animal House scene.
Dean Wormer: "Here are your grade point averages. Mr. Orton, two Cs, two Ds and an F. That's a 1.2. Congratulations, Orton, you're at the top of the Calipari pledge class."
If John Blutarsky could dribble like John Wall, Calipari would have offered his high school coach a job as a Kentucky assistant. As it is, he signed five new studs who'll stick around long enough to appear on ESPN more than they appear in class.
All of which is acceptable as long as they produce 35 Ws.
"Cal has brought Kentucky men's basketball back to its rightful place of national prominence," Barnhart said, "and I'm excited about our future."
Calipari is naturally denying any interest in Chicago. He said the same thing about Kentucky when he was at Memphis. The difference this time is the job description.
Calipari is excellent at luring teens to play basketball and persuading adults to compromise their ideals. But he was 72-112 with the New Jersey Nets. You don't win on talent alone in the NBA, and Calipari knows it.
"I'm very happy at Kentucky," he said.
He's found the perfect spot. The biggest name, the best facilities and an administration that craves wins more than respect.
So go ahead and give your man a raise, Kentucky. But for $4 million a year, would you at least require that his players are able to spell GPA?