Notebook

DUI may have been biggest loss

In big-time athletics, Winning helps erase fans' memories of a coach's missteps

Herald-Leader Staff WriterSeptember 6, 2009 

Which Kentucky coach past or present most damaged his career this year:

Rick Pitino? Sex scandal included he said-she said accusations of extortion and hush money that included payment for an abortion.

Billy Gillispie? A DUI charge was his third alcohol-related arrest.

John Calipari? He became the only coach in college basketball history to have two Final Four appearances vacated because of rules violations.

In judging, don't forget to consider the difference winning makes.

Winning excuses a lot (see Knight, Bobby), so Gillispie, who hasn't won at the rate of Pitino or Calipari, did the most harm to his professional career.

"If Billy Gillispie was a Hall of Fame-quality coach, people would find a way to say, well, you've got to give him another chance," ESPN commentator Dick Vitale said in a recent interview.

Vitale said a third DUI arrest is "devastating" for an unemployed coach such as Gillispie. If Gillispie had won more and been celebrated as a coaching titan, he'd be better situated to absorb the hit to his reputation. The big winner is colorful. Mere mortals have a problem.

"It's sad," Vitale said. "It's unfortunate. But that's the way society is. With anything in life, be it the corporate world or the athletic world, the little guy gets shunted to the side all the time."

Southeastern Conference basketball consultant C.M. Newton agreed that winning equates to diplomatic immunity. Money is the reason. A proven winner is a proven money maker for athletic programs ever in need of more revenue to pay six- and seven-figure salaries.

"Intercollegiate athletics has gotten to be a bottom-line business," said Newton, a former UK player and athletic director. "So many decisions are made on that business basis."

CBS Sports reporter Tony Barnhart, who also contributes to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also saw Gillispie as most vulnerable.

"Pitino will be forgiven," he wrote in an e-mail. "Calipari's critics will move on. Both Pitino and Calipari have been to multiple Final Fours. They are a proven commodity. Gillispie will find it much more difficult to get his next high-profile opportunity."

Winning brings another positive byproduct. To paraphrase one of Pitino's book titles, success isn't a choice. It's a necessity. So the programs with winning traditions are more determined and more capable of recovering.

"Where some of those programs have not recovered from those embarrassments (Iowa State, Georgia), Louisville and Kentucky will endure," said columnist Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star. "Winning basketball is too important."

Jay Bilas, one of ESPN's college basketball analysts, saw the problems of Pitino and Gillispie as "personal failings." Drunk driving is a serious offense, thus making Gillispie's career most in doubt.

Although Kerkhoff noted that Larry Eustachy got another job after an Internet posting of photographs showing him drinking with co-eds. That makes the Kansas City-based writer confident that Gillispie will resurface.

Kerkhoff saw Pitino facing multiple problems as the butt of jokes in enemy gyms and a recruiter with a fresh controversy to explain away. "And how could any player take seriously a message of personal responsibility (from Pitino)?" he asked.

All agreed that Calipari is best positioned to move forward. The NCAA did not directly implicate him in either Final Four abdication (UMass in 1996, Memphis in 2008). Bilas wrote a lengthy defense, noting that the NCAA cleared Derrick Rose to play.

"For people to simply seize on the common denominator is Cal is incredibly unfair," Bilas said. "I think it's ridiculous."

Rex on Davender

In an e-mail sent Thursday morning, former UK teammate Rex Chapman vouched for Ed Davender's basic honesty and good nature. But Chapman acknowledged his disappointment that police charged Davender with three felony counts of theft by deception last week in connection with allegations of selling UK tickets he did not possess.

"That's just boneheaded," wrote Chapman, who played with Davender on UK teams in the 1980s. "And I'll tell Ed the same thing when we talk. He's obviously lost his way recently a bit. Times are tough, and in this economy I've seen people resort to things they would never have even considered otherwise.

"Moreover, I am positive that anybody Eddie D. harmed or wronged in this whole deal will be repaid what they are owed. It's the kind of guy he is. It may take him some time, but I know he'll make it right. It's who he's always been."

Chapman recalled an incident in December 1991 in which he wanted to give Davender $2,000 to buy Christmas presents. At the time, Davender was working three jobs to try to earn money to buy gifts for the children of a brother who had been imprisoned.

Davender only accepted the money under the condition that Chapman expect to be repaid by the next Feb. 1.

"I want everyone to know that Eddie D. not only brought me back the $2,000 that he borrowed, but he added some $250 on to the tab just to show his appreciation," Chapman wrote. "I wouldn't accept it, and we nearly got in a fight over it. Over the past 25 years or so Ed and I have had that type of relationship, though. He has gotten in a bind with family issues here and there, and I have loaned him a few dollars here and there. In all these years Ed Davender has NEVER NOT paid me back on time ... or when he said he would. Not once."

'27'

Reader Tom West of Frankfort came up with a good idea for UK in its court battle with Billy Gillispie.

"UK's attorneys should request that all of their court dates in the Billy Clyde saga be held on the 27th of the month," West wrote in an e-mail.

Then West supplied supporting evidence:

■ Date of Gillispie's infamous "Bad Question" interview with ESPN's Jeannine Edwards — Jan. 27.

■ Date of Gillispie's firing — March 27.

■ Date of Gillispie's DUI arrest in Lawrenceburg — Aug. 27.

■ Flagship station of the Big Blue Sports Network — Channel 27.

■ Then what West called the "best of all" evidence — Gillispie's record at UK of 40 victories and 27 losses.

West, 45, grew up in Danville. He works as executive director of the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board. He's a lifelong fan who attended UK in the mid-1980s.

Here are a few other facts attached to the No. 27 as found on Wikipedia:

■ There are 27 books in the New Testament.

■ Musicians who died at age 27 include Robert Johnson, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Pete Ham, Richey Edwards and Kurt Cobain.

Memphis appeal

A decision on the Memphis appeal of NCAA sanctions may not come before the new year. Memphis, which formally notified the NCAA last week of its intention to appeal, now has 30 days to file its written appeal.

Then the NCAA's judicial body, its Committee on Infractions, will have another 30 days to formally respond.

Memphis then has 14 days to submit a rebuttal. The NCAA enforcement staff can then make a written statement on Memphis' appeal. Memphis gets 10 days to respond to the enforcement staff's statement before a hearing is scheduled.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which obtained a copy of Memphis' notification of an appeal, the school will challenge only one of the 31 findings in the report — that Derrick Rose was "ineligible during the entire 2007-08 season, including the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship" due to his retroactively canceled SAT score.

As a result of that finding, the NCAA ordered Memphis to vacate its 38 victories from 2007-08 and return the money earned from its run to the NCAA championship game (a total of $615,000).

Surely, Memphis will note that Rose had been ruled eligible prior to the season.

That sounds like Memphis played Rose because he had been ruled eligible. The school only learned after the season that his test score had been invalidated.

But the story may not be so simple.

A New York Times article included this paragraph:

According to the infractions report, this case stemmed from a questionable SAT taken by Rose in Detroit in May 2007. When accusations were made that someone other than Rose had taken the test — he had taken all three attempts at a qualifying score on the ACT in his hometown, Chicago — the SAT security testing agency started an investigation. After Rose did not cooperate with that investigation during the 2008 season, the agency canceled the test result in May 2008, making Rose retroactively ineligible for the 2007-08 season. Memphis knew of the investigation before the season but decided Rose could play.

That makes it sound like Memphis knew it took a risk by playing Rose.

NCAA.org, the body's Web site, runs a regular feature in which it corrects media mistakes. No correction was made in connection to the above paragraph.

'Over the top'

Dominick Anfuso, the editor in chief of Free Press, said UK Coach John Calpari's book tour is drawing unusually large crowds. With some high-profile authors, "you can get a dozen or less" at a tour stop, Anfuso said. "This has been pretty phenomenal." The tour's Kentucky stops, which have preceded this week's launching of national publicity, have been "over the top," he said.

The tour continues Sunday at the Kroger in Versailles (4-6 p.m.).

It goes to Paducah on Monday at the Luther F. Carson Center (6 p.m.).

Tickets for the event in Paducah cost $5, $10 and $20 plus fees to benefit United Way of Paducah-McCracken County.

Purchase tickets through the Carson Center Box Office at (270) 450-4444 or online at www.thecarsoncenter.org.

The tour goes to New York on Wednesday and Thursday at the Borders Wall Street (100 Broadway beginning at 12:30 p.m.).

Then Calipari finishes the tour at the Barnes & Noble in Boston (800 Boylston Street) on Friday.

The book, Bounce Back, is already in its fifth printing, Calipari said in a tweet on Friday.

When asked if he might start thinking best-seller list should Calipari's 687,000 Twitter followers all buy books, Anfuso laughed and said, "They won't. That would be fabulous. But they won't."

The book predates Calipari's move to Kentucky this spring. Anfuso liked the book idea because he saw Calipari as "an inspirational character who obviously had a big effect on kids."

Happy birthday

To former UK guard Dale Brown. He turns 41 today.

The perfect birthday present? A commitment from UK to play Dillard, an NAIA school in New Orleans he coaches.

Brown, a defensive stopper on UK's 1993 Final Four team, has been scheduling exhibition games against Division I teams as part of the ongoing effort to help Dillard recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Former UK teammates John Pelphrey and Travis Ford have helped. Dillard will play at Arkansas on Nov. 2 and at Oklahoma State on Nov. 10.

Brown has also gotten an exhibition game at Southern Miss on Dec. 30.

Looking to the future, he expressed confidence that Dillard will play Minnesota (Tubby Smith) and Arizona State (Herb Sendek) in 2010-11.

Such games make a critical difference for Dillard, which lacks budgets for equipment and scholarships. Those games also give his players lasting memories and Dillard a chance to get exposure on ESPN.

As for UK, Brown works the phones in hopes of getting an exhibition game against his alma mater.

Jerry Tipton covers UK basketball for the Herald-Leader. This article contains his opinions and observations. Reach him at jtipton@herald-leader.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service