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By LARRY VAUGHT
Vaughtsviews.com regular Linda Sinclair got this response from Mike Bowen of the COIA after his group blasted Kentucky coach John Calipari for his scheduling and one-and-done stance.
“Despite the obscene, ignorant and totally despicable comments we’ve received from many of you, I will respond in an attempt to set the record straight.
COIA has never, as a matter of policy, commented on the things that individual universities, or coaches, do whether we agree with them or not. That is not our thrust. We decided to comment on Coach Calipari’s pronouncement only because it has far broader implications for the integrity of the student-athlete idea in intercollegiate athletics. What he’s suggesting is that his non-traditional program is dedicated to bringing in athletes that are, for all intents and purposes, professional with no intention to graduate from the University of Kentucky. The sort of players he referred to will probably need to attend classes to stay eligible their first semester of their freshman year, but, if they intend to turn pro, would have no need to attend classes in the spring because their intention is to leave the university once drafted. Any pretext of such UK (or any other university’s) basketball players as student-athletes is gone it seems. It also seems tragic to us that the NBA Players Association currently controls whether such athletes, who don’t desire to attend a university for an education and would prefer to play professionally, are limited in their ability to do so because the rules that apply to other athletes (i.e., baseball) graduating from high school don’t apply to them.
Again, COIA’s stance is only to defend the integrity of the student-athlete concept. The issue of games at neutral sites is not all that important, other than as a symptom of the “big issue” that we, as representatives of our various member faculties, felt that we have the responsibility to speak out about. As you know, intercollegiate athletics has been descending the slippery slope into a more professional and money driven model for many years now – at the expense of student as athlete principle upon which intercollegiate athletics, and athletics at any high school or grade school, is based. Some of you apparently disagree with this principle, but this is what we believe and are standing up for. In light of this, we see Coach Calipari’s statement to be yet another (as many of you have correctly pointed out, he is not alone in some of his “non-traditional” practices) alarming escalation that will make this situation worse by placing enormous competitive pressure on other universities to adopt similar practices.”
Two others who also sent complaints to Bowen got the same response and fired back again and here is what they sent thanks to Sinclair for sharing the information that was sent to her by them:
Michael Owens — “I can appreciate your response. However I’ve always operated under the belief that College was supposed to prepare you for a professional life. Is it these talented individuals fault, that for some, it only takes 1 or 2 years to take that jump to the professional ranks? Believe me if I could have become one of the highest paid Architects in the world after 2 years I would have jumped, and I imagine you would to.
I also have no problem with your stance. However I do take issue to the fact that you so blatantly singled out Calipari and Kentucky when NUMEROUS coaches and schools operate in the same fashion. Your calling out of Calipari is unjust and simply unfair. The fact is his success is simply higher when compared to his peers.
This makes him the easy target. It is also hypocritical. Because Coach K at Duke sprinkles in a few 3 & 4 year players around his one and dones that makes it all peachy keen? Or do I need to mention that Duke is a COIA member while Kentucky is not. Can’t step on members toes can we?
College is tool for some people to use to better their lives. Some people it takes 2 years, others takes 7 like myself. To chastise people for improving their lives makes you sound petty and just plain jealous.
Bart C. Sullivan — I can’t speak for the rest of these folks, but my correspondence to you could not in any fair way be construed as “obscene, ignorant and totally despicable.” What I wrote was the following, in its entirety:
I read with interest information on your website stating, “University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari recently announced that Kentucky will apparently demand that its non-conference basketball games be played off campus to provide better pre-professional training to the ‘one-and-done’ players it recruits. . . .” Coach Calipari announced nothing of the sort. To pronounce that he “recently announced” and then just start an unsupported diatribe—that UK will “apparently” demand, “provide better pre-professional training,” and the like, is simply rhetoric, and inaccurate rhetoric at that. Needless to say, such a position suggests a bias against a particular school and its coach, and would appear to be more of an unsigned vendetta than a reasoned position of an organization claiming to represent the views of numerous universities. You may want to get your facts in order—perhaps look into the IU-UK history a bit, perhaps examine the behavior of the IU fans at last December’s game in Bloomington, perhaps note that virtually all of Kentucky’s pre-conference games are played in campus arenas, every year—before writing things.
You may not agree with what I wrote, but in no sense could it be construed as “obscene, ignorant” or “totally despicable.” Then, you compound your erroneous previous writings by writing what you said below, which is, in fact, “ignorant,” in that it is devoid of knowledge or research; to wit, “The sort of players he referred to will probably need to attend classes to stay eligible their first semester of their freshman year, but, if they intend to turn pro, would have no need to attend classes in the spring because their intention is to leave the university once drafted. Any pretext of such UK (or any other university’s) basketball players as student-athletes is gone it seems.” First, as you clearly must not know, players could not do that without adversely impacting the school’s APR score—that is, they must go to class the second semester, or else the school will face the kind of difficulties the University of Connecticut is dealing with now. Second, you clearly did not bother to check on the scholastic records of any of the UK kids who have turned professional early since Coach Calipari arrived: John Wall was nearly a 4.0 student, Brandon Knight was a 4.0 with 60 hours completed, Anthony Davis had a 3.7, and on, and on. Moreover, Patrick Patterson graduated a year early in 2010, and three seniors have graduated the last two seasons from the team. Only one freshman player in the three years Coach Calipari has been at UK has failed to finish his second semester classes (Daniel Orton, in 2010); the rest have done so, and most in excellent fashion (they have been no worse than second in the SEC on academic compliance/APR the last three seasons), as a little research would reveal to you.
Lastly, Coach Calipari has spoken out against the “one and done” rules, and even offered potential solutions to be considered. He is playing by the rules that exist, as are schools like Duke (which has lost its share of players after their freshmen seasons over the years, including Kyrie Irving last year and Austin Rivers this year. Irving, in fact, played only 12 games at Duke. No one likes the rule. But any coach would be foolish not to play within the rules that exist.
Your reply to all of the writers demonstrates rather clearly the points I raised. I am sorry you took my comments so personally, but they were certainly nothing like you now describe. You might want to think twice, and then do a little research, before making any more such pronouncements as brought all of this on.