Loyola Marymount Coach Max Good, a man known to use his tongue as a bludgeon, finds the ongoing shuffling of college teams from conference to conference appalling.
"It's cannibalism," he said Saturday. "It's greed. Hypocrisy, greed and cannibalism."
As one of the guest speakers at the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches clinic this weekend, Good was hardly alone in objecting to the naked — and reckless? — pursuit of money,
Morehead State Coach Donnie Tyndall noted a common fear: that the schools in the mega-conferences will ultimately bolt from the NCAA and form their own national tournament. In this scenario, Morehead State and other mid-majors would not be invited to play (read: not share in the money generated).
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"That's scary from our perspective," said Tyndall, before suggesting a moment later that his fears are probably groundless.
"I really don't think, with the success mid-major programs have had, with Butler and VCU and teams like ourselves making a splash, that's what makes the tournament so special. So I don't think it'll ever happen."
Of course, Morehead State upset Louisville in last spring's first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
"But on the flip side, who would have ever thought that Pittsburgh and Syracuse will leave the Big East, and all this conference realignment would happen the way it is," Tyndall said. "So, it's scary."
Good spoke of a fear that programs outside whatever mega-conferences exist might be exiled to what he termed "I-AA basketball."
Also scary is the outside-looking-in loneliness of Morehead State and other so-called mid-major programs. When asked who would listen to his concerns, Tyndall said, "Really, to be honest, probably nobody.
"The presidents and commissioners of these upper-level leagues have the power because of the TV money. That's a big part of all this. So there's really no one to voice your concerns to. And, unfortunately, we have to wait and see how everything falls out."
Butler Coach Brad Stevens, the current face of Cinderella success in the NCAA Tournament, sounded more upbeat. He took solace in the example of — irony alert — college football. The very driving force in conference realignment has shown in its earlier Football Bowl Subdivision confederation that it would preserve the bowl system rather than begin a playoff.
Similarly, Stevens said, even the grubbiest of money grubbers can appreciate and preserve the NCAA Tournament.
"The first two to four days are the most talked about (and) most discussed sporting event in the world," the Butler coach said. "You'd be stirring some big-time emotions with that."
Former UK coach Tubby Smith returns to Central Kentucky Monday night when he's the guest in Georgetown College's "Conversations with Champions" series.
Georgetown's first-year coach, Chris Briggs, was a UK manager from 2001-04, which was in the middle of Smith's 10-season time as coach. He saw Smith as a fitting guest for the series.
"I think it's fantastic," he said of Smith's appearance. "Everybody knows he's a man of great character. ... There's a lot of guys people glorify. But everything people say about Tubby Smith being a great man and all that is true."
The "Conversations with Champions" series is an offshoot of Georgetown College's Academy for Character in Sport. Smith and series host Billy Reed will discuss athletics and character at the school's John L. Hill Chapel beginning at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Briggs, a native of Paducah, had been an assistant for Happy Osborne before becoming head coach this off-season.
While Smith is in the area, Briggs hopes to continue talking to him about a Georgetown-Minnesota exhibition game.
And if UK needs an exhibition opponent ...
"We'd love to," Briggs said. "If they're open to it, we'll do it any time."
Briggs noted how schools such as Georgetown depend on exhibitions to augment their athletics budgets.
"We have to raise a ton of money to travel, to get our guys nice sweatsuits and meals over Christmas (and) recruiting," he said.
'Wait and see'
When the SEC abolished divisions in men's basketball beginning with the 2012-13 season, Commissioner Mike Slive said he would appoint a committee to decide a conference schedule. How many games? Who plays whom, and how often?
UK is represented on the committee. Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart is serving along with two other ADs: Joe Alleva of Louisiana State and Greg McGarity of Georgia. Coaches on the panel are Mike Anderson of Arkansas, Billy Donovan of Florida and Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt.
With conference alignments in flux, the committee has not moved beyond generalities.
"If conferences realign, that could change that conversation," Barnhart said last week. "... Not too much ink is dry at this point."
When asked whether further expansion might mean a return to divisions, Barnhart said, "I don't know. It's hard to tell based on what knowledge we have. It's sort of wait and see."
Whatever form Lexington's entertainment district takes, its convention-center space might have to almost double to keep the city current and competitive in the convention business.
That opinion was part of a draft report presented to Lexington's Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors last week.
John Kaatz, a partner in the Conventions, Sports & Leisure International consultant firm, told the board that Lexington Civic Center would reach 85 percent of its potential if it expanded to 100,000 square feet, and 90 percent of its potential at 125,000 square feet.
The Convention Center is now about 66,000 square feet.
CS&L, which studied the Convention Center and the Kentucky Horse Park, is expected to present a final report by mid-October.
The draft report did not address one idea floated by those who would like to see a new arena in downtown Lexington: Rather than renovate Rupp Arena, expand the Convention Center into that space and build a new arena.
CS&L's five-month study will give architects a range of space to ponder, but it will not make a recommendation on how to use the space.
Rupp Arena represents the history of UK basketball. A new arena means more revenue.
As UK and Lexington leaders try to balance historic authenticity with making more money, Duke walks a two-lane path with Cameron Indoor Stadium: Preserving arguably the sport's best atmosphere while providing updated convenience.
Keeping students in the closest seats to the court "probably does more for Cameron's game-day atmosphere than anything else," Duke spokesman Jon Jackson wrote in an email.
Yet Duke has tried to improve Cameron.
"In recent years, there have been several upgrades to Cameron to make the fan experience more enjoyable," Jackson wrote. The school opened a Duke Basketball Museum and upgraded the nearby Duke Athletics Hall of Fame last year.
Other recent changes included a new videoboard and installation of air conditioning, plus additional restrooms and concession stands.
Jackson also noted aesthetic improvements on the main concourse to give the building a "museum-like feel."
Cameron Indoor Stadium is more than twice as old as Rupp Arena.
"Duke constantly looks at ways to keep the building current," Jackson wrote, "while adhering to its considerably rich history."
Former Butler (and Bryan Station High) star Shelvin Mack continues to work out in Indianapolis while awaiting a resolution to the NBA labor strife.
From Butler Coach Brad Stevens' perspective, it might be a long wait. "From my own eyes, it looks awful," he said Saturday.
Mack works out with Butler coaches and the program's strength coach daily, Stevens said. He also plays in what Stevens called "pro-am events" occasionally, including one Saturday night in Indianapolis.
When asked about Mack's Plan B, Stevens said, "He's just going to wait it out. So, we'll see. He's obviously itching to play for more than one reason. One of the main reasons is that that's when the contract and the money starts coming in."
Friends of coal
A petition is circulating on the Internet that protests the sponsorship of UK's football game against Louisville last weekend. A group known as "Friends of Coal" sponsored the game.
The petition reads:
"The coal industry has been wreaking havoc on Kentucky's environment and threatening public health for decades. The university should put its responsibility to students ahead of payouts from the coal industry and discontinue the practice of taking money from coal companies.
"Tell the University of Kentucky: Stop taking dirty coal money."
The Web site CREDO Action posted the position. It quotes Wallace McMullen, a member of the Kentucky Sierra Club's Board of Directors, as asking, "Does the university want to present itself as a subsidiary of the coal industry?"
The site notes that UK accepted $85,000 from Friends of Coal. UK earlier accepted $7 million from coal interests to fund the Wildcat Coal Lodge, which is under construction.
CREDO Action cites a precedent for rejecting a sizable donation. Earlier this month, the University of Nebraska ended a sponsorship agreement with TransCanada, a company that hopes to build a pipeline to bring oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas, the site says.
The petition can be found at: http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/uk_football_coal/?rc=fb_share2
To former UK player Josh Carrier and former UK cheerleader Brittany Herzog. They were married last weekend in Lexington. The wedding was at Northeast Christian Church, and the reception was at The Lexington Center Bluegrass Ballroom.
Former UK teammates Chuck Hayes and Ravi Moss served as two of the groomsmen. Carrier's brother, Jonathan, was best man.
Josh and Brittany will be living in Bowling Green. Both work in pharmaceutical sales, Josh with AstraZeneca, and Brittany with Eli Lilly and Company.
Two high-profile prospects with links to UK's recruiting effort will be playing in Lexington on Jan. 7.
Archie Goodwin, who committed to UK this week, and UK recruiting target Alex Poythress are set to play in Lexington Catholic's National Shootout.
Goodwin, a guard from Sherwood, Ark., and Poythress, a forward from Clarksville, Tenn., follow a long line of high school stars to play in Catholic's winter tournaments.
Tickets, which cost $9, will be available at Lexington Catholic, beginning most likely in early November. One ticket is good for all games that day.
No tip-off times are set yet. No doubt Catholic officials will try to work the games involving Goodwin and Poythress around UK's 4 p.m. tip-off against South Carolina that day.
To Cliff Berger. He turns 65 today. ... To Jack Givens. He turned 55 on Wednesday. ... To Rodrick Rhodes. He turned 38 on Saturday. ... To Matt Heissenbuttel. He turned 30 on Saturday.