NEW ORLEANS — It's not John Calipari's rule.
He doesn't even like it, even if it helped him win an NCAA Tournament title on Monday night.
The NBA rule that says a player must be 19 years old or have completed his freshman year of college before he can enter the draft is not ideal, the coach said.
"I don't think it's a good rule," he told the media for what seemed like the 212th time this week at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "I hope we change it before this week's out so all these guys have to come back. But it is a rule. It's not my rule. It's a rule we have to deal with."
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The guys Calipari was referencing are Kentucky's five starters (three freshmen and two sophomores), all of whom are projected to go in the first two rounds of the NBA Draft on June 28.
This week Calipari voiced his displeasure with the rule, offering several solutions to make the situation better for both the college game and the NBA.
Ideas like schools paying for players' disability insurance or that the league should give a player a year off his first contract (so they can make bigger salaries more quickly) if they stay in school for two or more years.
He argued that if a player graduates in three or four years they should get an increase in pay by 15 to 20 percent.
"The NBA would get a more seasoned player who's better prepared to promote and do all the things and not get in trouble and know how to act," he argued. "It's good for everybody."
As Calipari made these suggestions to a group of reporters Monday night, one suggested there's no way the NBA players' union would agree to these sorts of solutions.
Calipari scoffed and said he's been in the process of trying to convince the NBA to do at least some of these things, including meeting with Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players' Association.
"I've met with him three different times already," Calipari said. "He spoke to my team before the NCAA (Tournament) started to tell them to worry about college and not the NBA and then he and I spent an hour. I've already been up to New York to meet with him about it."
It's a process, Calipari said.
"You've got to negotiate," he said. "We've got to go to Billy Hunter and say, 'How do we get this done?' Then you've got to get the NBA involved."
'The way it is'
It's unlikely — OK it's this side short of impossible — that the rule will be changed in time to keep Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague in Kentucky jerseys next season, as Calipari jokingly wished.
But jokes aside, Kentucky's starters have a lot of serious decisions to make in a short time.
The NBA and NCAA differ on when a player must declare that he's going pro or staying in school. A new NCAA rule basically killed the concept of "testing the NBA waters."
It says a player must remove his name from pro consideration before the first day of the national letter of intent signing period, which is April 11, almost a full month sooner than last year.
NBA teams aren't allowed to work out any underclassmen until they know who is entering the draft on April 29 — the NBA's deadline. That means players may have to say they're coming back to college, to satisfy the NCAA rule, and then later declare they're leaving before the NBA deadline.
Calipari made it clear on Monday night that he's not interested in the new arbitrary dates.
"I'm not worried about the NCAA deadline," the coach said. "It means nothing to me or those players. They have until the 29th to make that decision. If anybody else wants their players to make that decision by the 7th, that's fine, but my players will not."
It didn't sound like any of them were in a rush to make decisions.
After the win, Davis, the probable No. 1 draft pick, referred to the April 29 date when asked about making his choice.
"Coach Cal said we have until April 29 to decide," Davis said. "I'm going to wait, sit down with my coach, sit down with my family, see what the best decision is for me."
Two other players also said they weren't ready to make their intentions known.
"I don't know yet," Kidd-Gilchrist told the media in the locker room after the Cats won their eighth championship.
When Teague was asked if there were a chance he'd return to Kentucky for his sophomore season, he said only: "There's a chance."
Amid all of the hubbub of winning a title was another deadline the players had to meet on Tuesday, which was the date they had to send in a request for information from the NBA's Undergraduate Advisory Committee.