By LARRY VAUGHT
Should college basketball players be paid as part of the way to fix some of the recent scandals in the sport?
That question was posed to Kentucky coach John Calipari, who is always for reform, during Thursday’s Kentucky Media Day. He didn’t disappoint with his lengthy answer, either.
“There is so much stuff, treating kids fairly, I have some ideas, but I just don’t think it’s the time for me to talk about that stuff. Folks, you all know me. You know where I’m tilted to. You probably could say, ‘This is how he feels,’ and be right without me saying it. ,” Calipari said.
“But I think we all should come together here and, again, be fair. Being fair with this kid. We have kids that are insured. You do know that, right, for disability? But not every player can get that insurance. They’re not all eligible. Well, that’s not fair. This is America. So be fair with every one of these kids. Be about them. I’m not saying don’t protect the game. This is how I make a living. I’m not saying don’t protect our university. I’m not saying that.
“But the first decision should be, ‘Alright, what’s right for these kids, and how do we deal with that?’ If we do that, we all come together with that being fair, doesn’t mean you treat every kid the same. They finally did away with this level playing field. Do you remember that one? 350 schools. There’s no level playing field. That’s just words. But let’s be fair in that, and I think we’ll move in a direction. I would say this: We’ve had the highest graduation rate in NCAA basketball history of African-American basketball players.
“They raised the standards on all these kids academic entrants, and I wasn’t for it. I said, ‘You’re affecting one group, and you know who that is, and it’s not fair.’ Well, that group chased that and reached it, and they’re doing so much better in school than they’ve ever done in the history of our sport.
“I don’t think you blow up a system for 10 players, 20 players. I just don’t believe you blow up a system. You figure out how you make this work. There are things out of our control. The NBA and the players association would have to come up with it. It’s not in our control. They have to do that. What if they choose not to do it? How do you be fair with the players? How do you do that? How do we make this so that every player that’s here is treated fairly?
“ Doesn’t mean they’re all treated the same, but they’re treated fairly. ”