As expected, the FBI’s investigation into shoe companies’ involvement in college basketball was a hot topic at Kentucky’s Media Day. By now you’ve heard about the tense moment between John Calipari and Jerry Tipton when Tipton asked Cal about the FBI investigation:
‘This is a media day, not coach day’ – Reporter Jerry Tipton checks John Calipari, asks about CBB-FBI investigation
– Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 12, 2017
It may surprise a lot of you, but I’m Team Jerry on this one. Yes, by that point, Calipari had been asked three questions about the FBI investigation and only one about his team; however, it’s clearly the biggest topic in the sport right now and, as Jerry said, the media has every right to ask the questions they want to ask on Media — not Coach! — Day. I understand Cal’s frustration as well; Kentucky’s not involved in the investigation, so why continue to address it when he could be talking about his own team? Yet, honestly, in the wake of the scandal down the road, yesterday’s kerfuffle was a refreshing reminder that, unlike Louisville, Kentucky has reporters that will press the hard issues, even if it makes the head coach throw up his hands in frustration.
All of that being said, some reporters took it a bit too far. I was in a pool of media surrounding Kevin Knox, the highest ranked freshman on Kentucky’s roster. Knox was asked several times about his involvement with shoe companies and whether or not he was offered anything to come to Kentucky, to which he said no.
“I came to Kentucky because I knew Cal would push me,” Knox said. “I knew I would get the treatment I wanted. I knew [Kenny Payne] would push me to my hardest. I knew the practices would be really competitive and that’s something I need. I grew up with a disciplined family, a hard-working family. I knew Cal was a hard worker, so I came here because of that. I came here because I wanted to play with other guys. I didn’t come here for no money or nothing like that.”
Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal asked Knox if he could have gotten money somewhere else, which is when it got a little awkward.
“No, nothing like that,” Knox said. “I was a real clear guy. Nothing was — not my family. We came here because we wanted to come here, none of the schools offered me nothing.”
“You need a better agent,” Sullivan quipped, and when Knox looked at him, he repeated it. “You need a better agent. Some guys seem to be cashing in.”
Kudos to Knox for regrouping to deliver a professional, thoughtful answer.
“I guess those other schools had a lot of problems but not at Kentucky. Cal is really big about not giving out money because a lot of people came here because they want to get to the next level. That’s the reason a lot of us came here, because we want that. Kentucky has nothing to do with no money.”