UK Men's Basketball

Calipari welcomes idea of allowing college basketball players access to agents

What NCAA changes would John Calipari make?

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari was asked Tuesday about possible NCAA rules changes regarding agents and money for student-athletes.
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Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari was asked Tuesday about possible NCAA rules changes regarding agents and money for student-athletes.

Kentucky Coach John Calipari welcomed NCAA president Mark Emmert’s willingness to consider allowing players to work with agents in the future.

“These kids deserve advisers as they work through this process,” Calipari said Tuesday.

In an interview with CBS Sports, Emmert spoke of significant changes in how the NCAA operates college basketball being put in place before the 2018-19 season.

When asked why there’s a difference in the way the NCAA views hockey and baseball players and basketball players with regards to agents, Emmert told CBS Sports, “It makes perfect sense to me that it ought to be very different than it is now.”

Calipari sounded hopeful that significant change could come relatively quickly.

“The problem with the NCAA is it’s slow moving,” the UK coach said. “This one doesn’t need to be slow moving.”

Calipari called for the NCAA and college basketball to work with the NBA Players Association, which oversees player agents.

Calipari also joined those who say college basketball players should be able to make money off their likeness or through signing autographs. “It’s their name and likeness,” he said. “It’s not ours.”

Maybe schools could monitor the revenue, allocating funds for families to travel to games or waiting to dispense the bulk of the money until a player leaves the program, he said.

Calipari acknowledged that some players at lesser programs might not be able to make as much money or any income at all from their likeness and autographs. He likened this to how one person can qualify for a home loan while another cannot.

After decrying how less lucrative programs outnumber the so-called Power Five conference schools, and thus have more votes at NCAA conventions, Calipari said, “This isn’t Communism … I’m sorry. That’s not how it works in our country.”

Cal the enabler?

In trying to get players to accept coaching advice, Calipari cautioned parents not to be “enablers.” Well-intentioned parents can make excuses for their sons or blame others for a lack of playing time, shots, etc., he said.

“He’s never been an enabler for me,” Brad Calipari said of his father. “He’s always been someone who kept it real and gave me the hard truth.”

John Calipari agreed, saying, “You should be in practice. He doesn’t get enabled. He still mumbles under his breath. I say, ‘One more word, you’ll be out of here. Your mom ain’t here to protect you. You’re in here with me, now.’”

Kiss and tell

In the victory over Missouri on Saturday, Brad Calipari made his first three-pointer of the season. As John Calipari explained it, this got a reaction from his wife, Ellen.

“She kissed me after he made his three,” the UK coach said. “And the first thing before her lips moved from mine, she said, ‘Why only one minute (of playing time)?’

“That’s what I deal with.”

Like UMass?

Calipari explained what he meant when he said recently that he had gone back to his UMass coaching days to come up with the right approach for this Kentucky team.

Those Massachusetts teams played fast, but had to adapt to when the opponent dictated a slower tempo.

“This team, because of its length, should be one of best offensive rebounding teams in the country,” he said. So UK’s nod to UMass is to try to have two or three players near the backboard when a teammate takes a shot.

Mood change

When asked to describe the team mood during the recent four-game losing streak followed by the current three-game winning streak, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said, “You go from almost being depressed and sad and disappointed in yourself to being happy and ready for the next challenge.”

Note of caution

In the last month, Ole Miss has lost its coach (Andy Kennedy) and won one game. And it took an overtime period to win 90-87 at Missouri last week.

In losing 73-65 to visiting Tennessee last weekend, the Rebels made only one of 23 three-point shots.

Yet, Calipari called the game a “tough one” if UK presumes victory.

“I know they’re good enough to beat us,” he said. “I’m worried about where are we? Have we learned? Or will we revert?”


Karl Ravech and Dan Dakich will call the game for ESPN2.

Jerry Tipton: 859-231-3227, @JerryTipton