Kentucky basketball is so superior to other programs its coach does not have to cheat — or, if you prefer, bend rules — to win.
UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. made that assertion last week while discussing new coach John Calipari and the need to comply with NCAA rules.
It's a familiar point of view. Then-UK president David Roselle said much the same thing 20 years ago: Kentucky basketball's superior tradition, fan interest and national exposure meant that the coach should not resort to underhanded methods. This was Roselle's way of reprimanding a program found guilty of major violations, which was not a first for UK.
Todd echoed the no-need-to-cheat sentiment when asked about a comment made by former UK athletics director C.M. Newton recently. While vouching for Calipari's willingness to abide by the rules, Newton added that almost all coaches, UK basketball's new boss included, venture into a "gray area" that tests the limits of right and wrong.
That prompted Todd to suggest such experimentation need not happen at UK.
"I don't think, at Kentucky, you have to be in a gray area," Todd said before adding, "Whether you have to or not, I don't want you there."
Todd held up UK football coach Rich Brooks as an example.
"I don't think anybody would say Coach Brooks got close to a gray area since he's been here," the UK president said. "And he turned the football program around far better than I ever expected."
In meetings with Calipari, Todd impressed upon the new coach the need to follow the rules. Of course, the big question mark about Calipari involves compliance, a doubt heightened this summer when the NCAA ordered his previous program, Memphis, to vacate its 2008 Final Four appearance because of major violations. Memphis is appealing.
Calipari's other college program, Massachusetts, had to vacate its 1996 Final Four appearance because star center Marcus Camby admitted to taking money and gifts from an agent while playing for the Minutemen.
As Todd reminded those within earshot, the NCAA did not hold Calipari responsible in either case.
Still, in a meeting with the new coach, Todd sent a message: Kentucky is not Memphis nor UMass.
"I don't remember ever saying it that openly," the UK president said before adding, "He understands being in the SEC. He now has certain expectations and restrictions. So he knows that's different from other conferences."
Todd noted what he called the Southeastern Conference's "9-A" rule, which discourages the member schools from recruiting players with eye-catching anomalies on their academic record.
"We had a list of high schools we could not recruit from," Todd said. "I talked to Coach Calipari about that. He said, 'I want the players that want to go to Duke; that want to go to Kansas. Being at Kentucky, I can recruit those guys.' "
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas took a different look at the argument that power programs need not cheat. He saw how such a view unintentionally suggests the less powerful programs have a license to cheat.
"I may be old fashioned, but no program needs to cheat more than another (I consider bending the rules to be cheating, as well)," Bilas wrote via e-mail. "Ethics are not and should not be situational, and it is not more understandable for a program with lesser resources to cheat relative to a program with greater resources.
"Ethically, there is no distinction between a rich person that robs a bank and a poor person that robs a bank. Just because the rich person doesn't need to do it misses the point. Whatever one thinks of the rules, the answer does not lie in their violation. It is wrong no matter who does it or for what reason."
Bradley becomes agent
As second careers go, former UK big man Michael Bradley has found a rewarding job. He helps players keep a basketball dream alive even if the NBA is not an option.
Bradley got certified as a player agent at the end of last season. He specializes in finding teams overseas that want an American.
So far, he's five for five in finding teams for former college players. Most notably, Bradley got former Louisville guard Andre McGee a roster spot on a team in Germany.
After becoming an agent, Bradley had a plan for starting his business. He began by making contact with colleges closest to his Northern Kentucky home: Cincinnati, Xavier, U of L and Kentucky.
Bradley, who transferred to Villanova after two seasons with UK, also contacted Big East schools.
He chose to make direct contact with coaches "rather than back door, 'sleazing' in with Facebook or with AAU coaches," Bradley said.
With more than 300 agents competing to represent 30 NBA first-round picks, Bradley decided to concentrate on players who will play overseas. A first-year deal typically brings a salary of $50,000 to $100,000 plus a rent-free two-bedroom apartment, car and two round-trip tickets to the United States.
"Not a bad deal for a 21-year-old kid," Bradley said.
To play for a high-profile coach like John Calipari or Rick Pitino only helps. " Playing for Cal is like the best ticket you can write to go to Europe," he said.
The advice Bradley gives comes from experience.
"My strength is I played there for two years," he said. "I know what it is. I know what players will be complaining about. The first call is the first pay check is late or the coach is running you into the ground. Those are the first two calls from everyone."
Players interested in his service can check the Web site www.bradleysportsmanagement.com.
As Bradley embarks on this second career, he has one throwback to his playing days. On Oct. 9, the Worcester, Mass., native is scheduled to be inducted in the New England Hall of Fame.
UK is No. 7
Blue Ribbon magazine — the, uh, blue ribbon pre-season publication in college basketball — has made Kentucky No. 7 in its ratings going into the 2009-10 season.
Kansas was a unanimous selection as the No. 1 team.
No UK player made the Blue Ribbon All-America first team. Forward Patrick Patterson made the second team.
Kansas returns its top nine scorers, including all five starters, and more than 94 percent in every statistical category from last season's 27-8 team.
Kansas fans will be happy to know that Blue Ribbon named eventual national champion North Carolina as its pre-season No. 1 team going into the 2008-09 season.
Here's the Blue Ribbon top 25:
2. Michigan State
5. North Carolina
12. West Virginia
13. Georgia Tech
16. Ohio State
21. Oklahoma State
25. (tie) Siena, Illinois
Here's the Blue Ribbon All-America teams:
Player of the Year: Cole Aldrich, Kansas.
Newcomer of the Year: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech.
First team: Cole Aldrich, Kansas; Kyle Singler, Duke; Luke Harangody, Notre Dame; Sherron Collins, Kansas; Evan Turner, Ohio State.
Second team: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky; Damion James, Texas; Greg Monroe, Georgetown; Willie Warren, Oklahoma; Scottie Reynolds, Villanova.
Third team: Talor Battle, Penn State; Tyler Smith, Tennessee; Trevor Booker, Clemson; Robbie Hummel, Purdue; Craig Brackins, Iowa State.
Fourth team: Greivis Vasquez, Maryland; Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State; Raymar Morgan, Michigan State; James Anderson, Oklahoma State; Ed Davis, North Carolina.
In case you missed it, two top prospects were scheduled to make official visits to Kentucky during the UK-U of L football weekend. The two were guard Brandon Knight and wing Stacey Poole Jr.
Analyst Evan Daniels of the Scout.com recruiting service reported the official visits early last week. Knight, who is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is rated as the nation's top point guard in the high school class of 2010 by Scout.com.
Poole, whose father played for Florida, is from Jacksonville, Fla. Scout.com rates him No. 58.
Knight is generally considered among the nation's top five overall prospects. There is talk that he has reservations about following Kenny Boynton, now a college freshman, to Florida.
Miami is supposedly trying to sell him on the idea of being a marquee player for the Hurricanes.
Two torn Achilles' tendons and a torn ACL ruined what seemed like a promising career for Poole's father when he arrived at Florida in 1989.
The son is about the same size (6-4). The younger Poole is billed as more of a driver than a perimeter shooter, which suggests that he'd be a better fit for UK than Florida.
Scout.com also reported that Chane Behanan would be visiting Kentucky this weekend.
Behanan, a 6-7 power forward, transferred to Bowling Green High School this year. He will be a junior this coming season. He played for Cincinnati Aiken last season.
Scout.com rates Behanan among the nation's top 100 players in the high school class of 2011.
■ You hear that Josh Selby, a top-10 prospect in the class of 2010, is looking hard at Kentucky. He originally committed to Tennessee.
■ UK Coach John Calipari visited high school powerhouse Oak Hill Academy last week to talk with guard Doron Lamb. Lamb lists Kansas, UK and Oklahoma as his top choices. The player also plans to visit Arizona and Connecticut, Oak Hill Coach Steve Smith said.
Arkansas will stagger two- and three-game suspensions this season in order to impose punishment while having enough players to field a team.
The suspensions came after the school investigated allegations of misconduct at a fraternity party. Arkansas did not name the players, but police reports indicated the players involved were junior guard Marcus Britt (already facing punishment for a DWI arrest) and freshman forward Glenn Bryant.
It seems likely that sophomore guard Courtney Fortson, who was not among players named in the police complaint, faces discipline for an off-color tweet that referred to the frat party.
"We have a lot of faith in John and how he conducts his program," Athletics Director Jeff Long said of Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey. "He's always been quick to respond to situations and been a strong disciplinarian.
"I hope people respect and appreciate that we're about more than winning games and that we want to help young people develop into being better, more productive citizens."
Pelphrey said in a news release he wanted fans "to be confident that these matters will be dealt with seriously."
During last week's Board of Trustees meeting, member Billy Joe Myles lamented the criticism that would be generated by giving UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. a bonus.
Myles suggested Todd should become a basketball coach in order to make big money. When asked later about becoming a basketball coach, Todd said, "I wouldn't have the talent and ability to do that. I'll stick to the technology world."
To Jared Carter. The former UK big man turns 23 Sunday.