When the Coalition of Intercollegiate Athletics released a statement asking schools to decline any neutral site invitation from John Calipari and Kentucky, it didn’t exactly go over well with fans of the Cats. Not at all. Fans in Big Blue Nation were so upset, they fired up their e-mail machines to voice their complaints with the
group of grumpy old men coalition.
COIA responded to the hate and at least 10 KSR readers, maybe even more, sent us the response:
Lady and Gentlemen,
Despite the obscene, ignorant and totally despicable comments we’ve received from many of you, I will respond in an attempt to set the record straight.
COIA has never, as a matter of policy, commented on the things that individual universities, or coaches, do whether we agree with them or not. That is not our thrust. We decided to comment on Coach Calipari’s pronouncement only because it has far broader implications for the integrity of the student-athlete idea in intercollegiate athletics. What he’s suggesting is that his non-traditional program is dedicated to bringing in athletes that are, for all intents and purposes, professional with no intention to graduate from the University of Kentucky. The sort of players he referred to will probably need to attend classes to stay eligible their first semester of their freshman year, but, if they intend to turn pro, would have no need to attend classes in the spring because their intention is to leave the university once drafted. Any pretext of such UK (or any other university’s) basketball players as student-athletes is gone it seems. It also seems tragic to us that the NBA Players Association currently controls whether such athletes, who don’t desire to attend a university for an education and would prefer to play professionally, are limited in their ability to do so because the rules that apply to other athletes (i.e., baseball) graduating from high school don’t apply to them.
Again, COIA’s stance is only to defend the integrity of the student-athlete concept. The issue of games at neutral sites is not all that important, other than as a symptom of the “big issue” that we, as representatives of our various member faculties, felt that we have the responsibility to speak out about. As you know, intercollegiate athletics has been descending the slippery slope into a more professional and money driven model for many years now – at the expense of student as athlete principle upon which intercollegiate athletics, and athletics at any high school or grade school, is based. Some of you apparently disagree with this principle, but this is what we believe and are standing up for. In light of this, we see Coach Calipari’s statement to be yet another (as many of you have correctly pointed out, he is not alone in some of his “non-traditional” practices) alarming escalation that will make this situation worse by placing enormous competitive pressure on other universities to adopt similar practices.
One KSR reader, Michael, even got a second response from COIA. It’s getting personal!
I was, quite frankly, unaware that KY wasn’t a member until earlier today, and I can assure you that that had no bearing on our position. Never came up. Unfortunately, Coach Calipari was the catalyst because of what we felt were his egregious comments, which were, as I stated, another example of the slippery slope which we, as faculty, feel strikes at the integrity of universities. While there is apparently more disagreement about this that we might have thought, that’s what we believe. If it had been Coach K at Duke who had made the statement, we would have used him as the example of what we’re talking about.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
So who are these guys again?
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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