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Christopher Miller

Calipari & Kentucky: The good, the bad and the ugly

Coach John Calipari and the one-and-done rule are ruining college basketball.

Seldom do we find coaches to be the most recognizable figures on sports teams whether it is at the collegiate level or professional level.

At Kentucky, however, there is little doubt that the most recognizable figure in the entire city of Lexington, Kentucky, would is the men’s basketball coach John Calipari.

Calipari spent almost a decade coaching at Memphis before joining Kentucky in late March of 2009 to take what he has referred to as his “dream job.”

At the time, Calipari became just the seventh coach at Kentucky in the previous 79 years. And what Calipari has done within the first six years in Lexington is nothing short of phenomenal.  

Among his list of achievements at Kentucky include a National Championship, four appearances in the Final Four, three Southeastern Conference regular season championships, three SEC Tournament championships and three SEC Coach of the Year honors.

Plus, who could forget the fact he has recruited dozens of five-star high school recruits to Kentucky, most of which he was able to help get to the NBA after just a year or two of college ball.

Calipari’s career is far from over but those accomplishments alone will earn Calipari a spot in the Hall of Fame.

As someone who is not a Kentucky basketball fan, I am less than thrilled that in less than a week Kentucky will most likely be crowned National Champions again. It will happen in spectacular form with the Wildcats posting an undefeated record, a feat that hasn’t occurred since 1976 when Indiana ended the season 32-0.

Despite my less-than-stellar view of Calipari and Kentucky basketball, I can tolerate hearing how good the Wildcats will be any given year because they are bringing in a handful of top recruits.

I also can tolerate Calipari’s subpar postgame interviews where he will most likely blame a loss or a close game on poor performance by his team and not a great performance by the opposing team.

One thing I cannot stand, however, is how Calipari has singled-handedly changed the culture of college basketball and Kentucky basketball. He has done so by utilizing a recruiting method where he recruits a top student-athlete on the premise that if he comes to play at Kentucky, he will then be making millions in the NBA in a year or two. 

Having such success with a strategy like that is impressive. It is not an easy task to convince an 18 year-old to come to Kentucky given they will have to take a lesser role with all the other talent and depth on the roster.

Impressive or not, the prevalence of one-and-done athletes in college basketball is ruining the game and Calipari is the biggest offender.

It disgraces the term student-athlete, because star players know they are going to the NBA but need to attend college as a formality. They only have to take general education classes and remain academically eligible for one semester before they have “done their time” and can move on to the next level.

Schools get hurt by not getting the money, notoriety, attention and achievement that would likely follow if athletes stayed their full tenure at a school. Fans also get hurt by not getting to see these athletes stay at their schools. Even professors feel the burden of teaching one-and-done’s who could care less about classes. Nobody but the NBA benefits from the arrangement.

I think it is in the best interest of college basketball to discontinue the one-and-done eligibility option in basketball that Calipari and UK have perpetuated.

Christopher Miller is a junior studying broadcast journalism and sports management. What’s your opinion on Kentucky and John Calipari? Let him know at or @MLLRC93.

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