In an appearance at The Rotary Club of Lexington on Thursday, Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari told the audience that he feels the Wildcats get “no breaks” from referees throughout the season and that his team has to “beat eight” at times.
“What do you do about referees that seemed to be biased against Kentucky or the Kentucky coach?” an individual from the audience asked Calipari on Thursday evening, per Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader.
“Did everybody hear that?” Calipari responded. “I think we get no breaks. None. Not one break. Everyone else thinks we get all the calls. And I’m, like, sit in my seat and see if we get calls.
“There are times we’ve got to beat eight,” the UK coach continued. “You know what? Let’s beat eight.”
Calipari then added that referees go out of their way to make sure Kentucky doesn’t “deserve” any more advantages on the floor.
“The advantages we have, (the referees) say, ‘They don’t deserve any more advantages; you have all the advantages,’” the UK head coach said.
After the appearance, Tipton reached out to retired referees Don Rutledge and John Clougherty, who said Calipari’s comments were “dishonest” and “bizarre.”
“He’s a little paranoid, probably,” said Rutledge, who worked six Final Fours as an official. “He was that way at Massachusetts. He was that way at Memphis. And he’s that way at Kentucky.”
“He’s letting his fan base believe referees are conspiring against them,” Clougherty, another official with Final Four experience, said of Calipari. “That’s bizarre.”
Clougherty then told Tipton that he would recommend that the supervisor of officials get in contact with Calipari about his comments.
“If I’m the supervisor of officials, I’m making a call to (Calipari),” said Clougherty, who added that the SEC’s Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials, Mark Whitehead “has got to be on the phone. First of all, Mark Whitehead calls the commissioner and says, ‘My next call, commissioner, is to John Calipari.’”