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Why did John Calipari not get involved in minority internship program sooner? Enjoy his honest answers

John Calipari


As I was listening last week to Kentucky coach John Calipari explain his role in the new minority leadership initiative to help minorities have a chance to become more involved in college athletics administration I wondered if he had ever thought about doing something like this earlier in his career.

In typical Calipari fashion, he gave a blunt, honest answer to what I asked.

“Let me give you a couple things, Larry, that I always wondered. If I was a coach in the 60s, would I have the courage to do the stuff I do now or that I did in the 90s when I was at UMass or Memphis or here?” Calipari said.

“If that was 65, could I do it? Could I do what C.M. Newton did it at Alabama? At Alabama! Would I have the courage to do what’s right even though it’s not popular? I don’t know.”

Calipari admitted he wonders why coaches like him and others didn’t decide to help contribute funds 10 years ago to make these opportunities available for minorities looking to get into college athletics administration.

“Did it take George Floyd to come to us and say, all right, how bad is this?’ And then you look and you do some soul searching and say, this is not good. This is bad,” Calipari said.

The UK coach knows college athletics is not the only field/business that needs to provide more opportunities for minorities.

“The question is, why would we do it in athletics? Because it’s our sphere of influence. For us as coaches, our own staff, and you all that know me know my staff, and if you’ve known me for 20 years, my staff from – and I’m not just talking my assistant coaches – weight strength, trainers, videos, basketball ops, my personal secretary, you look, we have diversity. We’ve done that,” Calipari said.

“But your next move is, OK, we have influence over the athletic department, especially if we coaches are funding the positions. Then would you truly have some influence. And now it becomes athletic departments looking at this saying, you know what, we need to do this.”

Calipari hopes there will be 50 to 60 college coaches making donations to fund 50-75 internships. He also said there was no better time than now even though some wondered with COVID-19 and the racial protests if the timing was right.

“Well, here’s my answer: Two pieces. One, the momentum right now we have, the wind is that our back. Winds change. At the beginning of next year, we may not have the momentum. I may not be able to gather the coaches, Tommy (Amaker) and I together to say let’s do this. That’s one thing,” Calipari said.

“The second thing is, I mean, we want to show the ADs that this means something to us coaches. We know what’s going on, on campuses, but even that it’s going to create opportunities and jobs and things like that.”

If the interns have to work remotely for a while like other administrators are doing, so what.

“We want to make sure we’re really doing what we can for these young people so when they leave, Kentucky they say, ‘The best experience I’ve ever had in my life. The greatest preparation for what I want to do.’ And that may be in business; may not just be in in athletics,” Calipari said.


  1. It is not as bad as some make it out to be today, including Calipari. Minorities as a whole have been making progress in the business world through affirmative action for decades now, and have been hired to fill middle and upper management positions in the process at major companies in America. One was elected recently as POTUS. The company I worked for, and retired from, had plenty of minority people on their payroll, and on jobs above my pay grade. Also, the coaching ranks in college and pro sports have been dotted with minority people in head coaching positions, and as top assistants, and have been for a long time. Who could ever forget Nolan Richardson leading the Razorback program to greatness. Sports teams in high schools across our land are led, many times, by former black athletes. Kentucky’s own Derrik Ramsey was a college AD. Joker Phillips was hired and promoted to a UK head football coach. As for AD positions and athletic administration opportunities in the here and now, how many minority individuals have applied the last several years and were not hired? I don’t know, but that is surely a question that needs to be considered if there is indeed a problem as Calipari implies. Perhaps that statistic alone would shed valuable light on this issue, and high light if a problem in fact does exist. I say the entity doing the hiring wants what they consider is the best qualified individual to fill the position in their athletic administrations, and should not base their decision entirely on the color of one’s skin. If the minority individual is the best candidate, then pick him or her. Earn it based on merit and not because you are in a minority group per se, and this is some sort of a payback or gift to make things right. The job means more then, and respect is gained.

    This entire issue is getting sort of ridiculous today IMO. White people get passed over all the time too Coach, and many of them have a story to tell also. Would the 50 to 75 potential internships funded by these coaches Coach be available to white people, or just minorities? Many are making everything about race today, and it is a dangerous development that is dividing America. Much progress was made in the civil rights movement led by Dr M. L. King. Much of his hard work is being abused today by many with dangerous agenda’s.

  2. Pup, you are right. This has got way out of hand. The leaders of the BLM are not looking for equality in anything. They are demand superiority. All of a sudden if you are a white male, you are guilty of racism by the fact that you exist and are not cowering down to them asking what can I give you. The BLM leaders are as racist as anyone. Their cause would be helped greatly if they advocated that ALL lives matter. Far more white people die at the hands of police, but they never mention that. Far more black people die at the hands of other black people, but they never mention that either. Black people blame slavery and the white people who had slaves. Its time for black people to get over slavery and recognize the fact that if it had not been for slavery, 90% of the black people who are here today would still be in Africa or would have never existed at all because their parents or grandparents or great grandparents were killed in one of the endless civil wars that rage on in Africa or died from famine or any number of diseases that still rage there..

    Many blacks have prospered and have good lives here in the US. They stayed in school, worked to get an education, and worked hard to make the most of opportunities in this country. They also made the effort to get to know their white coworkers and to get along with them. Many of them have white neighbors and are happy to be their neighbors. They are proof that black people can achieve the American dream if they are willing to work for it.

    Too many blacks choose to drop out of school, get pregnant at 15, go on welfare, and live in drug infested slums where most of the drug dealers are black. These people hate white people for being white and blame their misfortune on white people. They are the ones demanding handouts in exchange for votes and the Democrats are all too happy to pander to them. The Democrats have fueled this hatred by promising more than they ever intending on giving and then tell them to blame white people as a race, but to not forget to vote for them again at the next election. Democrats are the ones who have truly exploited black people. How many low income housing projects do you see in well to do democratic neighborhoods? NONE, they are always built in the same slum areas, but these are the very people who do not want to live with white people. I have many black friends who have done well in life, many better than I have. They are quick to tell me that you can’t help someone who won’t help themselves first. They detest the BLM as much as any white person does. No other country in the world hands out wealth to anyone because they have been deprived of it or won’t work for it. It’s time that everyone takes responsibility for being good people, good citizens, good workers, and good neighbors. If you aren’t happy with your life, work to change it, even if it takes time and is slow measured…at least you are trying to better yourself instead of demanding a handout. God doesn’t make junk, but we can make bad choices that junk up our lives. Many people have made bad choices, both black and white, but there are too many affirmative action programs today that give black people the ability to do better for themselves, but they have to make the effort to do it. Those programs are not available for white people in the same circumstance. Self respect and self determination are the building blocks for a better life, but that comes from within.

    1. Well said 33. This is not about the death of George Floyd anymore. If you do your homework and check them out, the BLM movement is a socialist, communist leaning organization. Read there mission statements, and check out their leaders. If many Americans don’t wake up, they will not recognize this country soon. Be careful what you wish for.

      While I’m at it, Stoops lost me when he donned that BLM shirt, and paraded around Lexington in it. These black athletes have done pretty well for themselves IMO. They are going to the best schools on free rides, and playing HS ball at AAU elite schools. Most of these professional black athletes that will not stand for the flag can kiss my A$$. Opportunities are earned, not passed out like candy just because your are a poor white or black person. I am not a racist, just a middle class white guy that has had to work for what I have today. I don’t look at the color of ones skin, but the character of the person in front of me. Herchel Walker spoke out about this issue on Fox News a day or so ago, and reiterated that the path forward is to respect and work together to solve some of these issues. Burning and destroying cities, and beating up cops is anarchy. All the racism being shoved down the white man’s throat today is starting to grate on many of us, and if it keeps up, it will only divide us more. My ancestors never owned slaves, and some of mine fought to free them, and I can prove that. God Bless the USA.

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