Calipari says NCAA blocking education fund for ex-players' kids

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 17, 2014 

Kentucky Coach John Calipari and his wife, Ellen, went to the NCAA with an idea: They'd create a fund that his former players at Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky could use to seek grants for their children's education.

When his coaching career ended and he could no longer contribute, Calipari would donate leftover funds to the three schools.

"What was the (NCAA) response?" Calipari asked reporters' Thursday. "It's an extra benefit. ... Because you'll use it in recruiting. And you'll have an advantage."

Calipari had an answer.

"Well, I won't if 50 other coaches do the same thing," he said. "Now, 50 of us do it. We can afford (it). I'm not the only guy who's done well and been blessed."

NCAA officials were not persuaded. An idea Calipari said he and his wife had pondered for five years died.

Calipari noted how he tries to leverage his position to support civic causes. He seemed to conclude that the NCAA's obstinate adherence to rules prevented good works.

Reporters know "how much I've leveraged this position to do for other people," Calipari said. "Now, you want to take it a step further.

"That's what you fight."

Baseball model?

Those who've supported the college baseball model for college basketball include the man who hired Calipari, former UK president Lee Todd.

But Calipari voiced adamant opposition to adopting the baseball model, which allows players to turn professional directly out of high school.

To play for a college requires a three-year commitment.

Such a rule in basketball would entice "thousands" of ninth- and 10th-graders to forsake educational goals under the false pretense of being good enough to turn pro after high school, Calipari said.

Calipari accused coaching colleagues of ulterior motives when they voice support for allowing players to turn pro out of high school.

"The guys who say let them go out of high school don't want to coach against them," Calipari said. "Simple as that. They don't want to coach against them.

"For anybody to say Brandon Knight or any of my kids had no business being on a college campus, you're old. You're grumpy. Go away!"

Reign in Spain?

UK will likely play exhibition games in Spain this summer.

"But I haven't made a total decision on what it'll be," Calipari said. "It'll probably have something to do with the World Games. I'm trying to play teams from the World Games, which probably means we'll get beat up each game because you've got NBA players on every one of these teams. But it'll be a good experience."

The 2014 World Cup is scheduled for Aug. 30 through Sept. 14 with games played in various cities in Spain.

Four more years?

Calipari scoffed at the notion that college players and coaches need four seasons to develop a bond.

He said his interaction with former players Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts this week made it clear that wasn't the case.

"The people with me, they could feel what was there," Calipari said. "And it was amazing because people will say, 'Well, you need four years to have a relation(ship).' No, you don't!"

Who needs a campus?

In suggesting that there's nothing special about attending college four years, Calipari downplayed the importance of being on campus.

"Now, they're saying you don't need college campuses," he said. "You can do it on the Internet. Why waste all that money?"

Presumably, the UK coach meant spending money on housing and other costs associated with living on campus.

"This stuff is changing right before our eyes," he said. "Are we staying up with it?"

O'Reilly factor

Calipari acknowledged trepidation when he went on the O'Reilly Factor to be interviewed by bombastic host Bill O'Reilly.

"With Mr. O'Reilly, I was scared to death . . . because I've watched him," the UK coach said. "And I love when he gets after people. I just don't want him to get after me."

O'Reilly wants to attend a Kentucky game, Calipari said. "So at some point, we'll have Bill O'Reilly on the first row," Calipari said. "We'll have to have police around him because he's a rock star."

Feeling Cal's pain

Calipari noted that he had a two-hour meeting with former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday.

"I asked him this question: What would you do if you were in my shoes coaching Division I college basketball right now?'" Calipari said. "And you could almost predict his answer because he's always been about people."

Rex's tweet

Calipari was asked if he'd spoken to Rex Chapman about the former UK All-American's now-famous tweet hours before the national championship game that Calipari would be coaching the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

"I haven't talked to Rex, but I'm fine," said Calipari, who added light-heartedly, "There were a couple other rumors I'm glad he didn't talk about on the radio."

Calipari repeated what he'd said on several television and/or radio shows earlier in the week. That when Anthony Davis asked him in the locker room after the game against UConn about going to the Lakers, Calipari said he was not. But if Davis would join him, he'd go to the Lakers.

That was a joke.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog:

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