University of Kentucky men’s basketball Coach John Calipari welcomed former Secretary of State John Kerry to a team practice Saturday morning, and that didn’t sit well with some UK fans.
Calipari posted a photo of himself and UK President Eli Capilouto with the high-profile Democrat on social media Saturday. It was accompanied by the comment, “Our 68th United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, is in town and going to watch our practice today. Loved his message to our team.”
That drew hundreds of comments from Kentucky fans, many of whom were not happy.
“Coach, you would be well served to yourself and KENTUCKY BASKETBALL to rid politics from your basketball court,” Bill Galbreath said in a comment.
“That traitor. John Kerry, should not be allowed anywhere near UK or our team. He should not even be allowed in the state of Kentucky,” another Facebook user, Joe Creech, posted.
After that, Calipari responded with another photo, this one of Kerry with the team, saying, “Anyone who has given to this country his entire life — from the Navy to our government — to make our country better, I respect. Party is irrelevant to me and I’m glad my team got to meet Secretary Kerry today.”
While there were plenty of “boos,” lots of fans said they understood.
“This isn’t about politics, it’s about recognizing service to ones country as a veteran & Secy of State. You did the RIGHT thing!!!!” Lynn Sparks responded.
“I support Trump, but I support the fact that Cal is showing respect to our veterans,” another user, Jeffrey Terry, commented. “People need to stop worrying so much about politics, it’s dividing us. Most importantly, I am looking forward to these young men bringing #9 home this year. Everyone, needs to be thankful that we live in the greatest country in the world.”
Calipari added some political balance to his feed later in the day by tweeting a photo of himself with Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft, both Republicans, at the UK football game.
This isn’t the first time Calipari, a registered independent according to state voter registration records, has drawn the ire of fans over politics.
“There was NOTHING political about it — it was simply a way of spreading the word of Big Blue Nation into the White House!” the coach said in a tweet at the time. “I apologize if I offended anyone — that was not my intention. I know politics and sports don’t mix, but a friend offered to give Bounce Back (his book) to the President and we figured we could send along a jersey as well.”
Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the U.S. Senate, is in the middle of a book tour to promote his recently published autobiography, Every Day Is Extra. The tour’s website did not indicate a stop in Lexington.