I don’t mean to tattle on the fine establishment that gave us Duncan Hines, Evan Daniels, and Bryan the Intern, but our favorite university in Bowling Green, Kentucky held a “very troubling” celebration last basketball season too. In fact, WKU did the same thing just two weeks before Kentucky did. The only difference? Western Kentucky didn’t receive a five-page letter from the NCAA.
On February 12, 2011, just two weeks before Kentucky slapped the NCAA in the face by honoring Coach Cal, Western Kentucky held a reunion for the 1971 Final Four team during halftime of a game at E.A. Diddle Arena. Players, coaches, and cheerleaders from the magical ’71 season were on hand to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hilltoppers’ only Final Four trip. Even Jim McDaniels, the star player from that team, was in the building.
The problem with the reunion is Western Kentucky’s 1971 Final Four run never happened, according to the NCAA. McDaniels – whose number is retired in Diddle – was busted for signing a pro contract while still in college and the NCAA stripped WKU of its postseason. The NCAA official record book shows an asterisk next to the ’71 WKU team, just as it does next to the ’08 Memphis team. Still, that didn’t keep the Hilltoppers from celebrating with an on-court ceremony and reunion luncheon.
So when will the five-page letter be mailed to Bowling Green? Hopefully, never. We don’t want a public apology from WKU to make things right. We don’t want any public apologies from the many schools that have done similar things. It’s all so petty and it’s sad that this is what it has come to.
I’m just pointing out another example that happened to be in the same state just two weeks before Kentucky’s ceremony (if we can even call it that) for Coach Cal.
As Dennis E. Thomas would say, “Recognizing Western Kentucky for a fictitious Final Four appearance does not properly ‘account’ for the vacation of wins.”