UK announced Tuesday that three scholarship players will not be back on the team next season.
The three were A.J. Stewart, Donald Williams and Jared Carter.
Each of them has been told to play nice or else and has quotes thanking everyone for the opportunities, but privately they must be seething. By the numbers this is vastly worse than the Alabama stuff, as Calipari signed the class in the full knowledge he'd have to boot almost a quarter of his team to do it, without the luxury of medical redshirts. And he's not even done: if Jodie Meeks comes back and there are no academic issues, two more guys will have to get show the door. It's indefensible. Kentucky should be ashamed they allowed it to happen.
Meanwhile, a walk-on was taking about a scholarship with Gillespie and then got the cold shoulder. This doesn't come close to the level of the departed above since the player didn't come to UK under the impression he could spend four years there and end up with a degree, but the manner in which it was handled is revealing. The JCCW on that:
Time for tweeting? Check. Time to give a good kid, a lifetime Kentucky fan and Kentucky native, the common courtesy of telling him he's not needed in person? Or even over the phone? No dice.
These guys got cut so Calipari could cram his five-member recruiting class, which will no doubt feature a number of one-and-dones, on campus, and the idea of the "student-athlete" dies a little more. Calipari's now two for two on abandoning schools just as they get nailed with major sanctions for activities that—like Steve Fisher—the headman didn't know about because he didn't want to. Add in his record as an assistant at Kansas and Pittsburgh and Calipari has been at four schools, all of which have been hit with major infractions stemming from his time there. (Here's the NCAA database for these things; unfortunately it's impervious to links.)
Yeah, John Calipari had no knowledge of (probably) Derrick Rose's fraudulent test score, but that's sort of the point: he didn't know. And he didn't know Marcus Camby and the agent blah blah blah. He's not an idiot and neither are the people at Kentucky. And neither is the public. We're all terribly cynical now.
I find this stuff hugely depressing. Calipari can't take his two recruits and coach the guys he's got and wait a single year to graduate some kids, he's got to boot upstanding players off the team now so he can win now because that's just what he does, and the Kentucky administration just watches. All Kentucky has to do is wait and they'll have their full compliment of NBA-focused players who regard school as a nuisance and Kentucky as a marginally preferable alternative to Europe. Not even that's good enough.
I wonder about people who don't care about anything past the final score, don't care how that stuff goes down. I'd hate to be the guy behind A Sea of Blue right now, as he's not one of these people:
What he has done is effectively turn UK into an NBA franchise, and while that might be good for wins and losses and national championships, it isn't going to be welcomed everywhere. Some people are going to be very upset with how this is going down, and they have every right to be. UK has historically honored its scholarships, and has only rarely (if ever) done what is going on right now -- forcing players to transfer in order to make room under the "scholarship cap."
He excuses this behavior in two ways: blaming the athletic director for letting it happen and citing the massive contract Calipari signed, which "demands immediate results."
Why? It doesn't, of course. It demands eventual results, or at least it would if anyone at Kentucky gave a tenth of a crap about the players currently on the team.
I look at the rest of that guy's post, which is filled with halfhearted defenses of Calipari's long and checkered past and just cringe. I'd hate to wake up and see my basketball team filled with mercenaries and the country's biggest asshole on the sideline, winning the hollow victories of the morally bankrupt. What's the point of pretending Kentucky's basketball team is wing of the university anymore?
I remember, back during the basketball coaching search, when a commenter really got his sanctimony on in defending Calipari. "I'm tired of people acting like he's dirty just because he's got greasy hair and an Italian name - he's never done anything wrong" or some such bullshit.
I don't think it had anything to do with the Italian name. There is some correlation between people who look like smug douchebags and those who actually are smug douchebags.
Oh, and Calipari actually cheats everywhere he goes, too. So there's that.
I am Italian. The gentleman in my avatar is there for a reason. In appearance, I am perhaps the most stereotypically greasy wop you are likely to encounter in your life.
From one dago to another: John Calipari, you are dirty. You are not dirty because you have an Italian name and greasy hair. I have those things, too. You are dirty because you are a cheater and a louse.
My first name is Nick, the Greekest of Greek names (and often used by Italians), my middle name is Croatian, and my last name is Italian.
I usually prefer to bring up my Croatian heritage in conversation just because it's more unique and it carries fewer historically negative connotations. A lot of people simply don't know where or what Croatia is so they don't ask stuff like "ZOMG do you have an uncle in the Mafia?" and "LOL do you people really put windex on everything?"
So since Bama bloggers blamed last year's oversigning story on some long held grudge against Saban since he was a former Sparty coach, what movtivation is Brian going to be accused of this time? Still upset about losing Joe Crawford?
While Calipari's dirty tendencies are obvious, shouldn't the WIN NOW OR DIE fanbases take some heat for encouraging this behavior? Oh, no, they won't come out and say to do it - but running off Tubby Smith because he wasn't winning enough titles, running Gillespie out, etc. etc. doesn't encourage Calipari to WIN NOW.
And I don't mean that just as a dig against UK - how many M fans were ready to declare the transition dead and failed by week 5 last year? How many 'Bama fans lost their shit when Saban lost to UL Monroe? It happens everywhere.
Essentially, I think the fans who continually declare losing, at any time, UNACCEPTABLE!!! are a part of this problem.
I knew that Calipari was dirty (hello, Worldwide Wes), but I had no idea how sleazy this move to Kentucky was going to be. Think for one second about how Tom Crean is handling Indiana and tell me which of those two you would want to affiliate yourself with as a fan.
You bring up a good point about Crean, he inherited nothing at Indiana and had a terrible season this year. But he is recruiting well and will rebuild Indiana in time.I would much rather be a fan of that then Calipari's method of making players leave the team so he can bring in all his one and done players.
I think Calipari is right to assume he has to win NOW
If UK was interested in anything other than an immediate return to prominence they would have hired a coach with a record of building programs. If UK was interested in building a foundation for a program that would be relevant in 10 years, then maybe Gilespie still has his job. I think the assupmtion that Calipari has the luxury of time is incorrect. As Brian stated, the AD and his cronies are not stupid, they bet the farm and are hoping it pays off. Besides, the NCAA has the teeth of a baby deer these days, so I'm sure they weighed the risk/rewards of hiring a guy whose past says he's not above doing what it takes to win. Win it all costs is a dangerous mantra and while I don't particularly like seasons like we have in football last year, but it is a hell of a lot less embarassing than being considered a cheater.
Right, this is a problem that goes beyond just Calipari. It's an institutional problem. To be clear, though, this shouldn't absolve Calipari from our consternation although it should probably mitigate it.
The concept of student-athlete died out a long time ago. Most schools could care less about a student's long term future and only care about now. God forbid if a kid gets hurt and doesn't make much of an impact; hey, he's doing great in school and on track to get a degree, but let's dump the kid for someone else who can contribute better on the field. No decency anymore...
I forgot to point this out in the post, but to forestall any accusations of hypocrisy: yes, basically this exact same mercenary stuff happened at M during the Taylor/Traylor years and it killed my interest in college basketball for a long while.
...i was all set to make just that point...i'd go back to the fab five, actually. as you point out, fisher might not have "known," but he didn't make much of an effort to find out, either. ya think beilein would let that kind of crap happen on his watch? i don't.
here's proof of how sleazy college basketball is - todd bozeman has a job.
How was Fisher looking the other way on recruting visits when Martin was present? Was he standing in the kitchen rading the frig when Martin was in the room?
While I agree that Fisher does not have the career of shadiness that Calipari has, to absolve him as some clueless stooge in the Ed Martin debacle is naive, at best, on your part.
Fisher knew who the guy was, knew what was going on, he chose to continue going down that path. The institution lost control while he was steering the ship and he let it happen. I would suggest rather willfully since the relationship enabled him to get players during his assistant and head coaching stints at UM.
Luckily, with Beilein we have not only a good game day coach (which Fish was not) and somebody who wont let those Shenanignas happen again.
He knew that Martin bought Bullock plane tickets, because he made Bullock give them back. But he never reported the incident, and never took Martin's access away after the incident. Being a good person in everyday life doesn't mean he did the right thing in his professional life.
much worse. Our dirty behavior was about bringing good players to the school and keeping them there--the only people hurt were reputations when this was discovered. In Kentucky's case, three kids are discarded for no reason other than greed.
"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."
I was at Michigan during Fischer's reign. He knew that Martin was buying Bullock's family airlines tickets (he stopped him on one occassion) but still didn't remove Martin's access to the program. Open your eyes.
These are the times when we pine for the old school coaches, who will tell you to get your butt to bed early, 'cause after classes you'd better be working out, practicing, and doing your schoolwork. There was a time when you were expected to leave it all on the field and still have enough left to become something great besides a sports pro.
And I'm not sure it's totally consistent with Brian's earlier posts that sympathize with college athletes looking to get paid. At the very least there's a definite tension between Brian's feelings with regards to the UK exodus and the consequences for his general sympathy towards college athletes who would like to be compensated beyond a scholarship.
I can't tell exactly what Brian's argument that what Calipari is doing is not merely undesirable, but morally wrong, depends on. In my mind there are two justifications he gives for this, first, a vaguely personalist argument that these kids shouldn't be treated by academic institutions like an input for a business. Brian's second, related, justification seems to be that this is all eroding the student part of student-athlete still further.
The potential problem here is that this reasoning could also be used to undermine the idea, that I believe I've seen Brian argue for, that college athletes shouldn't have restrictions on where they can market their labor.
I think the lack of pay and the restrictions on where college athletes can market their labor is the main reason why this is dirty. The players are expected to act like students, receiving no compensation while providing revenue to the athletic department and facing punishment if they want to continue their sport at another school. On the other hand, schools have no restrictions on dropping a player to bring in another player that might lead to more wins, and therefore more revenue. If a player was allowed to transfer and immediately play when a school was not living up to his expectations, I don't think there would be as much controversy if a school effectively drops a player who fails to live up to their expectations. Same if the player was effectively an employee instead of supposedly a student.
I don't think athlete compensation has anything to do with this.
This is wrong because of its impact on the three players that got kicked off the team, and because of the general scumminess of Calipari and complicity of the AD.
There should be a NCAA rule that you cannot drop a player other than for breaking team rules or not meeting academic standards. That's where the problem lies IMO.
And I hope to God that we never pay the athletes beyond what they are already paid (the obvious). That will only accelerate all of these unseemly trends. The answer to corruption is not to admit it's all corrupt and have more of it, the answer is to get rid of the corruption.
And this is a separate debate, but since it's in your post I'll throw in: what generates the revenue is the games/schools themselves, not the players on the field. I would go to the same number of M games if the roster was filled with 1 star athletes, and most people I know would too.
"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."
Rather than saying that coaches can't drop players who are on scholarhip, it would be more effective say that you can drop whoever you want, but you lose the scholarship when you do.
So if Calipari wants to cut players, that's his business, and if he wants to say it was a mutual decision or for disciplinary reasons or whatever, fine. But he loses those scholarships for at least a year, maybe until those players' eligibility would have run out.
This could be unnecessarily harsh when players legitimately want to leave without being pushed, and you might have to raise the scholarship limits a little to compensate. But it would take away all incentive to cut players.
Nothing in Brian's post should rub you the wrong way since you don't believe 18-21 year old college football players should be able to be paid for their labor.
But for people like myself, who believe that the colluded agreement between the NFL, NFLPA and NCAA that boycotts the professional employment of 18-21 year old football players is unfair at best and illegal at worst, there is a major problem.
While I can go along with Brian's argument that the UK exodus isn't in the interest of Kentucky or college football, I don't think anyone who holds my views can accept that it is immoral from Brian's reasoning.
Now this is an argument I can get more on board with. But I think it's worth noting that this argument is one Brian doesn't make and it's rife with its own tensions. As you noted in your last sentence, although giving players more freedom to transfer where they want etc. helps level the playing field for players it still erodes the amateurism that most of us would like to remain in college sports. Maybe the solution instead is to limit an institution's ability to make cuts, like the blue guy suggested, or to allow for player transfers without penalty when there's a coaching change. Lord knows something needs to be done. The way things stand now the institutions just have all the power.
This is why I am so ecstatic at Coach Beilein being Michigan's coach. I believe our future is bright. I am willing to see solid improvement, and to live with not contending annually, if it is the cost of doing things the right way. There is too mcuh slime in bball recruiting.
“Top to bottom Michigan is about excellence, greatness. You have my pledge I will carry forward the excellence of Michigan football." Jim Harbaugh, December 30, 2014
Generally right, but slightly wrong on the facts...
Brian's generally right that the practice of pulling kids' scholarships in a new coaching regime is ethically dubious.
However, these player departures don't yet prove that UK is committing this practice - Cal will probably force his own hand in the near future because of the size of his incoming class, but I know that at least two of these players are 'special cases' where they aren't being booted in quite the way Brian characterizes.
AJ Stewart quit the team last year for a brief time in the middle of the season and was only allowed back on after a team vote. If one of UM's role players quit the team in the middle of a season, was dealt with during the season, and then was politely given a list of options that didn't include returning in the off-season, I think many UM fans would probably be okay with that.
Jared Carter is merely not applying for a 5th year of eligibility from a medical situation from his junior season. This seemed to be the plan all along as he went through Senior Day last year at Rupp when Gillispie was still the coach.
Donald Williams is the only suspect departure. Frankly, I know very little about his case, only that he certainly wasn't on the same talent level as Cal's incoming class. Perhaps this a 'dirty cut', but given that the others in this round of departures are special cases, it wouldn't surprise me if Williams' departure is a similar case.
All in all, I think Brian's right about the practice of cutting players - just not totally sure it's happened yet at UK, though it probably will in the very near future.
Calipari cut scholarships from players who probably need those college degrees to hand them to players who are going to make millions by next year and could easily have afforded student loans for a year before paying them off in one shot after the draft.
Oversigning by a half dozen when there are 85 scholarships is bad enough. Oversigning by five when you have 13 scholarships ... that's utterly indefensible.
How about this simple NCAA rule change: no oversigning. At no point during the calendar year should a football team have more than 85 scholarship players, and at no point should a basketball team have more than 13 scholarship players. No more loopholes for the offseason. It makes no sense for the NCAA to allow a guy like Saban to get his roster up to 95-100 players on signing day, and then have the whole spring/summer to "figure out" how to trim it down to 85. If a team can't have more than 85 scholarship guys in September, it shouldn't have more than 85 in May, either.
I like the College Hoops 2K8 ideal: For every scholarship offered, there must be a spot open, and the scholarship of a player who transfers/leaves the team/goes pro won't be open until the year after he leaves.
In addition to cutting down the practices that Calipari has been doing, it will provide more of a risk to take a potential one-and-done.