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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

John Calipari rips ‘bitter old men’ who say Kentucky players don’t go to class

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Kentucky's five underclassmen announced altogether in April they're turning pro

Eager to fight the perception his players don't go to class, Kentucky coach John Calipari found a way to draw attention to the issue.

He included a headline-grabbing jab at his critics in Tuesday's press release announcing the national champion Wildcats amassed a 3.12 team GPA during the spring semester.

"All these are good kids," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "We had a GPA as a team for this term with five players who are leaving early, so all this stuff bitter old men say that they don't go to class, it's not true."

The "bitter old men" crack is likely aimed at former Indiana coach Bob Knight, whose distaste for Calipari's reliance on one-and-dones at Kentucky is a poorly kept secret.

Knight famously refused to utter the word "Kentucky" on the air at ESPN last season, leaving the Wildcats off his list of the nation's elite teams. He also called one-and-dones "a disgrace" last spring and had to apologize for erroneously saying Kentucky's 2009-10 Elite Eight team "started five players in the NCAA tournament games that had not been to class that semester."

Fair or unfair, the release of Kentucky's team GPA tends to make more national headlines than it does at other schools because it's considered a referendum on whether the one-and-done system meshes with the academic philosophies of universities.

Kentucky deservedly drew criticism for posting a 2.025 fall semester GPA and a 2.18 spring semester GPA during Calipari's first season, but the Wildcats' performance in the classroom has been far better the past two years. Even counting only scholarship players, the basketball team's GPA was fourth-best among Kentucky's nine men's sports and above the athletic department's overall 2.98.

What's most important for the Wildcats is seniors Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas earned their diplomas and all five of the early entrants into the draft finished the spring semester. That means Kentucky will avoid any APR hit and can continue its recruiting philosophy regardless of what any critics have to say.

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