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Calipari: “I don’t think you blow up a system for 10 players, 20 players.”

Tai Wynyard paid extra attention to a special visitor to UK’s Media Day on Thursday. (Larry Vaught Photo)


Should college basketball players be paid as part of the way to fix some of the recent scandals in the sport?

That question was posed to Kentucky coach John Calipari, who is always for reform, during Thursday’s Kentucky Media Day. He didn’t disappoint with his lengthy answer, either.

“There is so much stuff, treating kids fairly, I have some ideas, but I just don’t think it’s the time for me to talk about that stuff. Folks, you all know me. You know where I’m tilted to. You probably could say, ‘This is how he feels,’ and be right without me saying it.
,” Calipari said.

“But I think we all should come together here and, again, be fair. Being fair with this kid. We have kids that are insured. You do know that, right, for disability? But not every player can get that insurance. They’re not all eligible.

Well, that’s not fair.

This is America. So be fair with every one of these kids. Be about them. I’m not saying don’t protect the game. This is how I make a living. I’m not saying don’t protect our university. I’m not saying that.

“But the first decision should be, ‘Alright, what’s right for these kids, and how do we deal with that?’

If we do that, we all come together with that being fair, doesn’t mean you treat every kid the same. They finally did away with this level playing field. Do you remember that one? 350 schools. There’s no level playing field. That’s just words. But let’s be fair in that, and I think we’ll move in a direction.

I would say this: We’ve had the highest graduation rate in NCAA basketball history of African-American basketball players.

“They raised the standards on all these kids academic entrants, and I wasn’t for it. I said, ‘You’re affecting one group, and you know who that is, and it’s not fair.’ Well, that group chased that and reached it, and they’re doing so much better in school than they’ve ever done in the history of our sport.

“I don’t think you blow up a system for 10 players, 20 players. I just don’t believe you blow up a system. You figure out how you make this work. There are things out of our control. The NBA and the players association would have to come up with it. It’s not in our control. They have to do that. What if they choose not to do it? How do you be fair with the players? How do you do that? How do we make this so that every player that’s here is treated fairly?


Doesn’t mean they’re all treated the same, but they’re treated fairly.



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  1. These players get a free ride and a free education, regular students don’t. This is amateur athletics, don’t screw it up anymore than it already is. Big money paid to student athletes is a formula for disaster. Money is not the answer for every social problem in this country. Just look at the FBI probe going on now about enriching players and their families in order to sign big time players at certain schools. Paying players to play college sports is a slippery slope with even greater opportunity for some universities to cheat IMO. How could you ever make it fair for all universities, many of which do not have the revenue to compete for players? I am totally against this nonsense. Players should draw a paycheck when they go pro. If they don’t want to stay in school and get a degree, then they have to be good enough to move into the pro ranks and make millions after one or two years at the college level. Not everybody can be a millionaire in America.

  2. No NCAA athlete is treated like other students, and yes, athletes get their education paid for; big deal. That education is not something so spectacular other students cannot afford it. Many students get scholarships, grants, loans or jobs to help pay for college. Student athletes cannot get jobs because of the hours they put into practice and games. Also, name a regular student that helps to bring in millions of dollars to a university, you can’t. These athletes are having the NCAA use their names, their likeness, and their ability to make BILLIONS of dollars a year, yet if an athlete gets a free meal at a restaurant, they are suspended. If a student is playing away from home and someone in the family dies, NO ONE can help pay for that students trip back home, the school may be able to help, but the community cannot. You can pay for that trip for any other student in the school, but not an athlete. Steve Alford was suspended for several games because he posed for a CHARITY calendar and got nothing in return. The NCAA, and I hate to use this reference, but the NCAA is nothing more than legally approved slavery. They own every facet of the athlete’s life, make Billions off their ability, and give them just enough to keep them in playing shape. If any of us saw a UK player standing by a broken down car and gave them a ride, they would be in danger of being suspended if it could not be proven we would do this for any and all other students. Athletes are the only college students not allowed to make money off their abilities while in college. If a UK art student sold a painting while in college for $10 million dollars, it would be seen as a raving success, but if an athlete made $50 signing autographs, they get suspended or lose their eligibility. There is nothing “AMATEUR” about the NCAA and the only people that believe there is either have their eyes closed or pockets being filled with money being made by these kids. If the NCAA doesn’t want to pay these kids, quit selling their uniforms, quit using their pictures in ads, and sue the NBA to allow kids to go from High School to the NBA.

    1. These big time college athletes are doing pretty well for themselves IMO. They don’t have to work jobs to pay for food, housing, education, and such. They get it free of charge. They are fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to compete at the college level where today they are coddled, and made over, given the best of health care, etc. Go back 20 or 30 years ago and see how athletes were treated. These kids today eat off the training table, get treated like rock stars, and many move on to big bucks after college is over. The average student is not on a grant, or a scholarship, or such as that, some are. But even if they are, it is not ever enough to get them out of debt. They have to pay for their education, That is why we have the enormous debt the average college grad is facing after their college days are over. Besides, pay these athletes how much? What kind of guide lines? I say it will ruin college sports.

      1. It could not possibly get any worse. Pay for play scandals in FB and BB are older than Rupp. They deserve pay period. Coaches get paid millions because the players wear a certain shoe. Come on. Really. RP took 98% of the money from little brothers 1.5 million dollar deal with Adidas and then they sign a new deal worth 160 million dollars. Are you kidding me. They don’t need pay like I don’t need air. Take some time and just do the math on the money that just the SEC coaches get as EXTRA PAY because of the shoes the team wears. Look it up. Total it up and tell me that the players don’t deserve more. The numbers are RIDICULOUS. And on another note. These are not average students. Most carry the same course load as average students but have far less time to do the work when you factor in practice, games, tournaments and the extra work required when not practicing to maintain the physical skills to reach their dreams. No where near average! !

        Pay them and pay them now. Oh, and how much money did the NCAA make selling their likeness and numbers to video game companies before the players wised up and sued them and won to make them stop.

        Let’s go back 20 years and you see more play for pay than ever. Remember Eric Dickerson and SMU or our own black eye the Kentucky handshake(If you are to young to remember it or don’t know what that is just ask. I will be glad to explain it)). ROFLMAO

        1. I agree with you that the coaches make too much money today, but it’s what the market will bear these days, and that will not change. The average guy (fan) can’t buy a reasonably priced ticket now to see a big time college football or basketball game, or take his kid to see one because of ticket prices. Start paying players, guess who will foot that bill? The fans. These are not pro athletes yet, and nobody is forcing them to play college sports, they chose to because they are talented enough, and have dreams of playing pro ball where the big bucks are, and WOW, what an opportunity that many of us never got a chance to do after high school. Another thing, how is paying them on and above what they already get on a free ride college scholarship, going to give them anymore time to do course work? It would probably do just the opposite. I say many of them are being slipped money under the table already by Mr. deep pockets super fan who never gets caught. Tell me that ain’t happening? Tell me how you police this pay for play deal to make it fair for every university, some of which are financially strapped now. How can you stop the potential cheating that will more than likely result from such a policy? I agree with you on your NCAA point, but they rule until another governing system is put in place.

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