Calipari appears to attack Coach K’s recruiting in radio interview

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari might not seem like the most likely person to cast aspersions on others' recruiting practices. After all, he left both Memphis and the University of Massachusetts with different NCAA regulatory issues in his wake.

Kentucky coach John Calipari
Kentucky coach John Calipari

Still, those past borderline indiscretions (Calipari has never officially been cited with inappropriate recruiting tactics while on the job at any of his past stops) didn't stop him from taking a very thinly veiled shot at Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's recent alleged recruiting issues in a radio interview on Thursday.

As first reported by Matt Norlander of, Calipari was being interviewed on Memphis' area sports talk radio station Sports 56 WHBQ on Thursday when he veered into what can only be considered an attack at Coach K and his previously sterling reputation for avoiding NCAA scrutiny.

"Start a clean slate," Calipari told WHBQ host George Lapides. "Police each other, give it to league commissioners and schools to deal with. If it goes beyond that, there's a board there that's ready to deal with it. ... You've got coaches being fired over phone calls and text messages. Some. Other guys can make phone calls and it's not that big a deal."

You don't have to scratch your head too hard to figure out who Calipari was referring to with his "Other guys …" line. As one might predict, Calipari has since tweeted that his comments on the radio had, "nothing to do w/ Mike Krzyzewski," noting that the Duke coach has helped him prepare to lead the Dominican Republic national team. Still, the timing after Coach K's questionable scholarship offer conversation with top prospect Alex Poythress -- two likely recruiting violations (one for talking to Poythress, another for contacting his coach during an AAU tournament) which were first reported here at Prep Rally -- seems entirely too striking to be a mere coincidence.

Of course, the veiled attack is made all the more brazen by questionable social media activity that revolved around comments given to a reporter by Calipari earlier this summer. As Prep Rally reported in July, a Canadian prep hoops reporter publicly tweeted that Calipari told him Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep star Anthony Bennett would be "a nice fit" with the Wildcats. Naturally, if Calipari openly made that comment publicly, it would be an illegal comment about an unsigned prospect.

Through a reporter, the comment appears to have been considered legal, if only because it was impossible to determine whether it was released publicly as a matter of reporter error (North Pole Hoops editor Tariq Sbiet quickly deleted the tweet) because Calipari had made the comment off the record, or whether the tweet was actually what Calipari had hoped for in an effort to gain Bennett's attention in the midst of the summer AAU circuit.

Admittedly, Calipari's social media issue inhabits a decidedly gray area in recruiting rules, while Coach K's recent phone call to Poythress appears more clear cut, regardless of how the NCAA eventually chooses to interpret its existing rules. Still, the idea of Calipari passing moral judgement on the policing of ethical recruiting rules is a bit rich.

Or, more simply: Pot, meet kettle.

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