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Posted June 21, 2011

Kentucky Sets Calipari's Record Straight

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - This just in: Kentucky basketball is going to play by the rules.

Kentucky basketball is going to abide by the decisions of the NCAA Infractions Com­mittee.

Kentucky basketball is going to acknowl­edge a higher power than Kentucky basket­ball.

Henceforth, but better late than never.

Considering that Kentucky basketball may slip but never bows down, this has got to be the biggest upset in the history of the sport, at least in the month of June.

It took an overzealous and selective warning from the Infractions Committee chairman to get it done, but Kentucky fi­nally has agreed to set the record straight on John Calipari's record.

Unedited, Calipari has 509 career victo­ries.

Adjusted, not for inflation, but for vaca­tion, he has 467.

Kentucky's belated but official statement on the matter is one sentence long, but it makes a number of statements all its own.

"After consulting with the NCAA, the Uni­versity of Kentucky has been informed that the honoring of our head men's basketball coach for his 500th career victory on Feb. 26, 2011, was in error, and that henceforth, we will reflect our head men's basketball coach's career record in our media guides, Internet sites and other publications con­sistent with the NCAA's official records and statistics."

Where to begin?

Did Kentucky really have to be informed that Calipari's 1996 UMass team had to vacate four victories because star player Marcus Camby was found guilty of receiving extra benefits?

Kentucky beat that UMass team in the Final Four.

Did Kentucky also have to be informed that Calipari's 2008 Memphis team had to vacate all 38 victories because the NCAA didn't believe that star player Derrick Rose had taken his own standardized test?

Kentucky hired Calipari from Memphis.

Did Kentucky really not understand that the Infractions Committee says what it means and means what it says?

Granted, the committee does a better job of handing out sanctions than enforcing them. Since the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader first reported the committee's displeasure at Kentucky's defiance, various media outlets and independent Internet detectives have discovered that other schools have failed to make the appropriate adjustments to their coaches' records.

Three of those schools happen to be members of the MEAC.

Who's the MEAC commissioner? Dennis Thomas. Who's the chairman of the Infractions Committee? The same Dennis Thomas.

Oops. One more example that consistency and logic sometimes exist just beyond the committee's grasp. Not that any football or basketball fan in this state has to be reminded.

No doubt, while Kentucky is busy rewriting its record books, Thomas is just as swamped penning more threatening letters modeled after the one he sent Kentucky.

In that letter, he also demanded an apology. You'll notice that Kentucky's statement doesn't include an apology, but given the Infraction Committee's selective enforcement on this front, it's fair to say that Thomas owes the school an apology as well.

Maybe both parties can refuse to say they're sorry, and they can call it even.

As petty as the whole thing seems, there's a principle involved that the Infractions Committee shouldn't ignore when it comes to Kentucky or any other school that tries to count wins that no longer count, at least on paper.

No one likes the vacation of victories as a practical penalty, but rulings are rulings. A school doesn't get to pick and choose which sanctions to heed and which to ignore. It was important for the committee to make that point to a giant such as Kentucky basketball.

As for the Big Blue Nation, instead of feeling slighted, it should be excited. It gets to throw a bigger party when Calipari wins No. 500 officially.

The way he's rolling, plan on next March.


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