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John Calipari says former players have to realize program is about players now

John Calipari with former UK players Reggie Warford, left, and Larry Stamper. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

Remember this summer when former Kentucky All-American Kyle Macy, a starter on UK’s 1978 national championship team, said he did not feel welcome at UK practices any more. That set off quite a controversy among many UK fans.

This is alumni weekend at Kentucky and many former players were back for Friday night’s Blue-White Game and will attend practice today.

After the Blue-White Game, Calipari was asked about the comments made this summer. Here’s the exchanged that followed:

Q. It was great seeing the alumni back this weekend. It’s obvious you realize the importance of having them back to the tradition of the program. This past summer when there was that little dust-up, were you upset about how –

COACH CALIPARI: “What dust-up?


Q. About this or that player feeling uncomfortable about coming back.

COACH CALIPARI: “I didn’t know that. Was I supposed to know that? I’m not here in the summer, so I don’t know what they saying and are doing. Anyway, somebody said they weren’t comfortable coming back?


Q. Yeah, coming back to practice.

COACH CALIPARI: “I’ve done this a long time and the former coaches and former players, know — now, if there’s a reason you’re mad because of somebody else, and they are making you mad, I can’t do anything about that.

But me personally, every — we’re going to have 500 people at our practice tomorrow and they are going to be alums. So it’s not an issue with us in our team in this program.

But you know, I would tell you every player that has played here — I just was in there with Reggie (Warford) and his wife, (Marisa). Reggie Warford, they know that I’m here, if I can help, if you want to come to practice. But this is — you know, this is — sometimes you realize it’s about these players now. That’s sometimes hard. But you know, always welcome here.


Q. That has to be hard so coordinate. Obviously a priority in your mind to have these guys back.

COACH CALIPARI: “Most of it’s handled by DeWayne (Peevy), or people in my office. It’s hard for me to do it personally, but I think that everyone knows my stance in this, and you know, we’re going to do whatever we can.

This program, you know, when you talk family — and you have to understand now, I’ve said from day one, this program did not start with me.

“Like OK, it only became a program when I came here, and I never was that way. I haven’t been.

This program started with Coach (Adolph) Rupp, who coached here 45 years, and then it went to another great one, Coach Joe B. Hall, who is a dear friend who was in practice three days ago, came in.

I’m kind of like this seat — I rent this seat. This is not me. I just happen to be this guy in line.

“I’ve always felt that way about every job I’ve had. Didn’t start with me, whether it was Jack Leaman at UMass, whether it was Gene Bartow at Memphis.

But I didn’t know that. Hopefully — I’ll ask more questions in the back about who, what, where, why.

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