By LARRY VAUGHT
When things are going well with the University of Kentucky basketball program, it’s often joked that coach John Calipari is more popular — and powerful — than Kentucky’s governor.
Calipari also is a champion of numerous social issues and has had telethons to raise money for needy causes.
He’s met with numerous presidents and politicians. But says he has no political aspirations when his successful coaching career ends.
“I don’t know where that came from, but no. Let me just say this: coaching is getting — we are above the fray, but it’s still nasty. People say stuff, like, just, what? Like none of those guys are one-and-done — just say stuff that is nasty,” Calipari said.
“But let me say this: compared to politics, we’re in a playpen. So no. I could have a better impact donating money and doing stuff like that.”
He did talk to President Donald Trump via phone before he became president.
“Everybody that tells me they met him, in person he is totally different than when he gets in front of a camera. That’s what everybody said to me. And I may try to get with him — look, my grandparents came through Ellis Island and didn’t speak English. My parents were high school educated laborers, and I can sit down with presidents? ‘You shouldn’t do it.’ Screw you! If I get a chance to do it, I’m going to sit down with the president, whoever the president is,” Calipari said.
“Are you kidding me? So at some point I’d love to sit down with him. But everybody tells me the same thing; in front of the camera he is a certain way, but if you meet with him and you’re around him, he’s different.”