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John Calipari responds to Michael Avenatti’s Nike allegations

In August, Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne’s name was mentioned in documents controversial attorney Michael Avenatti submitted to federal court to support his claims Nike paid players to attend schools it sponsors. According to the exhibits, Payne had a conversation with Nike EYBL director Carlton DeBose, who told the Kentucky assistant which EYBL coaches he supplied money to in order to help families of players on the popular shoe circuit.

This morning at a preseason roundtable with reporters, Kentucky head coach John Calipari was asked about Payne’s name coming up in connection to the claims. Is he concerned?

“No, no,” Calipari said. “How we’re set up here, you guys know. It is what it is and we go about our business.”

Calipari did say that it didn’t come as a surprise that Payne’s — and in turn, Kentucky’s — name being mentioned drew plenty of attention even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing on his or the program’s part.

“It probably proved that — [Reporter: “Did it bother you at all?”] No, but here’s what it is, what I found out. You put Kentucky in a headline, or you put me in a headline? Oh, you’re getting eyeballs. So, the minute they see a K, ‘BOOM! Which K was it? Is that Kentucky — ah, it’s not Kentucky.’ I mean, it’s what it is, but then somebody called me and said Kenny was in it and I said, ‘What?’. They said, ‘It said his name.’ No, I said, ‘Yeah, it didn’t say his name because they wanted it to be me, so they left his name out and thought it would be me,’ and I was like, I got tents in the front of my house. The media, they set up tent city. Why are you laughing? Because you know it’s true. So, when it became Kenny and you read what it was, something to the effect of, make sure you don’t get — basically, he wanted him to do right, which would have been good, but because it’s us, it’s eyeballs.”

Calipari said it will be interesting to see how the NCAA treats Avenatti’s claims and the FBI’s findings because the organization doesn’t govern by precedent.

“I didn’t read it all but it was kind of amazing. This guy went for two years and was fine. Now all of a sudden he’s in jail and facing 198 years. What the hell happened in two years? All this stuff — I said it before, you’re not going to legislate morality. You’re not. And whatever happens from this, all I want to see is fair decisions. That whatever you did for this school, you do the same thing to this school. And if this school got nothing, then that school should get nothing with the same. What the NCAA, if any of you do your homework, they will not allow precedent. So, it’s the only law, maybe in the world, that doesn’t allow precedent. Do you know what I mean by that? If you ask, ‘Can I see that case because they kind of did exactly what we did,’ and ‘Can I read what they did,’ you know what your answer is? You can’t, and every case is different. No, they’re not. No, they’re not. Your decisions are different. We don’t know why yet, but they are. Is it to embarrass some and leave others alone? I don’t know but until we get a fair system, where precedent is used, I just — I think we all go about our business in your own silo and better make sure you’re doing right or you’re going to get fired. I hope.

“You can’t legislate morality. It just, it doesn’t — What are the penalties? Do they deter what’s going on? Well, not if the penalty here is one, and the penalty here is — I don’t know. If you have money to go get lawyers and say we’re going to spend $10 million on lawyers, you’re good. What if you’re at a smaller school that has a budget of $25,000 to spend on lawyers and that’s it? Guess what, you’re accepting whatever they say. You’re going down and you’re getting buried. So, that’s — you know. Let me say this: all the stuff hasn’t gone down yet. Let’s see. Let’s see what happens.”

We’ll have more from Calipari’s roundtable next Sunday.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

27 Comments for John Calipari responds to Michael Avenatti’s Nike allegations

  1. mashman 93
    1:26 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Cal is the best.

  2. 4everUKblue
    1:36 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Cal nailed it!

    • 4everUKblue
      1:45 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      I think Cal has to be very careful with what he says and how he says it but still get his point across without putting an even bigger bullseye on his back. We all know who he is talking about without him naming names

    • BlueWho
      2:04 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      The bullseye is on his forehead and has been his whole tenure at UK…why be careful about telling the truth and having an opinion? If his front porch is swept there is nothing more they can do to him they haven’t tried or done already.

    • JASUN74
      8:03 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      Bluewho, do you mean can’t do anything to him Like set him up. Kinda like money being found at fedex in a package that wasn’t sealed properly. Haha. Man I know and agree with what you’re saying, but there’s always people who will do whatever they can to keep others down. Cals been a great representative here and we’re damn lucky to have him, I wouldn’t want anyone else as our coach. Saying that though, the NCAA is as dirty as any dirty college team. Lol.

  3. Lee Durham Stone
    1:40 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    I graduated U.K., and played as nonscholarship on the freshman team in 1965-66, and love Coach Cal –but he does not speak extemporaneously in a coherent fashion in public. His thoughts jump around way too much and wind around and around. Still, keep winning games, and I shall tolerate his speaking style.

    • mashman 93
      1:56 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      I agree he does do that some but most of the time I think we all understand and know who or what he’s talking about.

    • Bobbum Man
      2:56 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      Who cares? Luckily we hired him to coach basketball not be a professor

    • John Henry
      4:02 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      It is just the way Yankees talk. They can’t help it. I was in the Army with them and learned one can translate it if we listen carefully. Cal will jump from thought to thought and never finish one. This is very common up there. As some have said this is not an issue because he coaches basketball and does it well. I enjoy listening to an interview with him because it is very entertaining. We will let the smooth talking lawyers worry about grammar and thought process.. Cal’s point of saying round about is that we have two justice systems and he is correct.. We have one for the haves and one for the have nots. Been like that since the beginning of civilization and will not change. Power and money controls the NCAA like it does most of society Bottom line one would never want Coach Cal under oath. No telling where the conversation would end up and we all know if you are under oath just answer the question and shut up. Don’t ramble. But again, he is not paid to testify in court he is paid to coach basketball at Kentucky. I am glad he is with us

    • IrishCat
      8:33 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      He’s got a way of talking that only makes sense if you’re listening, it’s horrible to read quotes.

  4. runningunnin.454
    1:52 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Cal, ha ha ha, consistency and fair decisions from the ncaa…ha ha ha, you know better than that.

  5. Han
    2:57 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Until a major court case forces the NCAA to be consistent, or until the major conferences choose to abandon the NCAA, there will be no change in the unpredictable, biased, corrupt way that the NCAA enforces their rules and punishes cheaters.

    There have been former players for well-known Blue Blood programs in North Carolina who have admitted they were part of cheating/violations, and nothing came of it. People intimately tied to UCLA’s cheating have publicly admitted there were extra benefits, and nothing came of it.

    If I was Louisville or any of the other programs that have recently been punished, I’d sue the NCAA. (Don’t get me wrong, the filthy cheaters in Louisville deserve their punishment and forthcoming punishments for cheating while being punished, but they and everyone else who gets punished can rightly be upset about the schools and coaches who don’t.)

  6. UKFanSC
    3:01 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Stream of unconsciousness

    • VirginiaCat
      3:20 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      Contemporaneous speech has never been Cal’s friend. It’s like a volcano of thoughts erupting that are often disjointed and only thinly connected. Typically not a problem, but can be a liability in high pressure, crunch situations where nimble, clear thinking is required.

    • UKFanSC
      3:24 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      I’m not sure he’s ever completed a sentence

    • UKFanSC
      3:28 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      But……you don’t need to be Winston Churchill to get to a Final Four

    • runningunnin.454
      3:59 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      Hey Virginia, that nimble, clear thinking concept is great…why don’t you try that?

    • 4everUKblue
      4:52 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink


  7. nicky
    3:16 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    Cal: “You can’t legislate morality”

    Really? Murder’s immoral….we have laws against that….How about rape? Is theft not ‘legislated’?

    Cal just parroting a line leftists used in the 90’s…

    • 4everUKblue
      3:35 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      You’re an idiot!

    • runningunnin.454
      3:56 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      You can’t legislate morality, you can only legislate actions. The phrase has been around since the Lincoln-Douglas debates, through prohibition, and through the ’60’s civil rights discussions.
      History is your friend.

  8. makeitstop
    3:24 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    He talks like that for a reason – he makes his point without ever giving anyone a tangible target to say he defamed them or violated some Thou Shalt Not Question the NCAA rule.

  9. Megan
    6:11 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

    People who aren’t lawyers or judges often don’t understand the reasons for specific decisions. Most never read the decisions, and if they did, would have a relatively hard time understanding them. And so you commonly hear the complaint that the decisions are inconsistent, that there’s bias and corruption and whatever else can be alleged to disparage the enforcement committee, which usually comprises nothing but lawyers. Everyone talks about how much money UNC invested in fighting the NCAA, but no one ever discusses the legal analysis presented in the NCAA’s decision. It’s just a whole lot easier that way. You don’t have to think very much.

    And it plays into that whole “they’re out to get us” thing Kentucky fans (and Cal) love to wallow in. So when was the last time the NCAA “got” us? How many decades has it been? And when was the last time they “got” Cal? I’ll answer that last one: Never.

    • 4everUKblue
      7:04 pm September 8, 2019 Permalink

      You’re comment might make sense in the justice system but makes zero sense when it comes to the NCAA, nice try though. You’re right about it being decades since they got us but when they did they gave us the death penalty for the same thing teams like dUKe, Kanass, Arizona and UNCheat are getting away with and at a much more blatant and frequent level. Try harder.

  10. meeksfor3
    7:43 am September 9, 2019 Permalink

    Cal bringing out the big guns on the NCAA, UNC and Duke in those comments.

  11. satcheluk
    7:08 am September 10, 2019 Permalink

    His analogy of lawyer’s budgets for big schools and small schools works just the same for society at large. You got money? You’ll do less time, if any!