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As Kentucky coach John Calipari continues to make national headlines today after SI.com’s Pete Thamel reported Wednesday that the NCAA is again checking on Nerlens Noel’s eligibility, here’s a couple of different perspectives to consider.
First, see what UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart had to say about Calipari’s impact across the UK athletics department in his interview with Les Johns of The Kentucky Kernel, UK’s student newspaper:
“John cares about everybody. He has been a great CEO for men’s basketball, there is no question about that. He has made Kentucky basketball not only relevant again, but dominant again — to a spot where people fear playing us again. From a program perspective, he believes it is important for everyone to be successful, and he has done a nice job reaching out to other coaches and other programs to see what he can do to help them and to help them get better. He thinks about things at a 30,000-feet level, but he also is able to get down and deal with the details that allow him to be great. Both pieces of that he manages in a way that is unique to coaches at that level.”
However, a die-hard UK fan also sent me this e-mail about the Noel situation:
“Do UK fans really think that Thamel is wrong for reporting Noel stuff and he’s clean? Delusion or reality? One more thing, UK fans will fight to the death for a player that hasn’t put on a UK jersey, then degrade a football player that has given 3-4 years and faced injury and harassment.”
Certainly a different perspective from a fan who obviously loves football and feels that Morgan Newton has not always been treated fairly by UK fans.
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Barnhart also defended UK have a NBA exhibition with former Cats on Sept. 15 to benefit charity at 2 p.m. when UK will host Western Kentucky five hours later in football. Here’s what he told Kyle Tucker of the Courier Journal about the basketball game hurting football:
“You can look at it that way. You can also look at it this way: We’re trying to bring as many people onto our campus and around our institution as we possibly can. We use all the assets that we have at Kentucky to do that. So we’ve got an opportunity to have something in the afternoon and people that want to go to that can then come to the (football) game at night. I look at it a little differently maybe. I always look at it as an opportunity to maximize a weekend and expose as many people to as much as we possibly can.
“When I was at other schools, in the spring we used to have a spring football game and we’d also have a baseball game, a softball game and something else going on all the same weekend, and you’d run them one on top of the other and give people multiple opportunities to go around and be a part of whatever that was. I would say the same thing here: I want to give people opportunities to be part of our program in many, many ways and continue to bring people to our campus. I think it’s good for the community. We have some very strong alumni in our (basketball) program, and we want to continue to bring them back and rally around the flag of Kentucky. That’s what we’re all about.”