Thursday, May 28, 2009
Coach Cal Caught
Another one bites the dust. Accusations of major recruiting violations came out yesterday against the Memphis basketball program during their NCAA Tournament Runner-Up year. Of course, Coach John Calipari was the head coach of Memphis during that time. I for one am not surprised. Calipari has been playing it fast and loose his whole career and his success does not make sense. I would also not be surprised if many, many other schools are guilty of the same violations. Moreover, I think there is a systemic problem in college sports that leads to these violations. Each year collegiate sports draw in so much money that these players can't help but feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.
Coach Calipari has always been a pretty smooth guy. Well dressed, Italian, very young when he started his career. It is encoded into my DNA as an Irishman that I do not trust well dressed Italian people. The signs were there from the beginning; Calipari recruits the best player in the land at the time in Marcus Camby to lowly UMass and takes them to the Final Four. What's up with that? Then after a brief hiatus from college coaching, he goes to Memphis and reloads the program with a bunch of "one and done" thugs and takes college basketball by storm. Usually rebuilding a program takes years, decades even. But Calipari was able to rebuild UMass and Memphis in a very short amount of time with these top recruits. The same appears to be happening at Kentucky already. It can't be just because he is a great coach. He's definitely been greasing the wheels for years and these new allegations could open up Pandora's box for him.
By no means is Coach Cal the only one doing this though. We have recently seen programs like UConn, USC, Michigan (and a while back) UNLV get busted as well. Many of these teams were powerhouses during their time. What a coincidence. I wouldn't be surprised if we go on to see the likes of a Villanova, Pitt, Louisville or UCLA get caught with their hands in the cookie jar as well.
The problem in the NCAA is that their is so much money being thrown around. College basketball brings in big dollars and gives national attention to kids that have grown up in very poor circumstances much of the time. They want a piece of the action too. The NCAA has got to figure out a better way to regulate this stuff, impose harsher punishments so that it won't happen anymore, or come up with some sort of way that NCAA athletes get paid. The only real option that makes sense to me is imposing harsher punishments. The point is that there has got to be a better way than what we have in place now. Until that way is found, let the witch hunt continue!