While in Marshall County last weekend to interview PJ Washington, I spent some time with his mother, Sherry. Sherry and PJ’s dad Paul met at Middle Tennessee State, where they both played basketball, and she’s done her best to remain impartial during her son’s recruitment. I asked her what she thought of the Wildcat Coal Lodge without mentioning Trae Young’s family’s comments about it (although it appears those may have been in jest). Sherry admitted she had heard bad things about the Lodge before PJ’s official visit in September, but once she saw it for herself, she couldn’t understand the criticism.
“You know what, I’ve heard a lot of people say that the dorms are not that good. And of course, I heard that before seeing it, so when we went in, I told my husband, what were they expecting? This is perfectly fine. All he needs is somewhere to lay his head, somewhere to brush his teeth, get his clothes, and then get to the gym. So, I thought it was great. Maybe I’m biased, I don’t know. It looked fine to me. I don’t see where — and then, the downstairs lounge area? I wish they had that kind of stuff when I was in school.”
Last week, Calipari responded to some of the criticism of the Lodge, telling reporters that when it was built in 2012, it was the first of its kind and therefore, subject to the NCAA’s strict policies against some of the things he wanted to include.
“The lodge was built the way it was built because the NCAA told us ‘no’ a thousand times,” Cal said. “Then Taj-Mahals were built and they said, ‘Well, those are fine, though.’ We were told ‘no.’ Believe me, I was in the middle of it. Joe Craft doesn’t want to hear that the lodge isn’t this and that. We built what (the NCAA) allowed us to build.”
It’s worth noting that in January 2016, Governor Bevin approved a $21 million proposal from UK to renovate the Lodge, but that money will actually be spent on an expanded eating facility connected or adjacent to the Lodge for athletes on the north side of campus. Additionally, the Joe Craft Center is set to undergo a $4 million renovation after ten years of wear and tear.
So, criticism of the Lodge is clearly making the rounds in the recruiting world. Hopefully all parents are as level-headed about it as Sherry Washington.