Kentucky helped raise nearly $1 million for those affected by Sandy

Any neutral New York fans who attend Friday night's matchup between Kentucky and Maryland in Brooklyn now have good reason to root for the Wildcats.

That's because Kentucky coach John Calipari will present a check for almost $1 million to help in relief efforts for victims of Superstorm Sandy. The Wildcats helped raise the money by answering phones and taking pledges during two telethons Wednesday night aimed at helping people in the New York-New Jersey area.

Not many coaches would halt game preparations 48 hours before their season opener to spearhead relief efforts for people hundreds of miles away, but Calipari has seldom missed a chance to use his platform as Kentucky coach for charitable purposes.

In 2010, Calipari donated $1 million to an organization benefiting underprivileged kids in Memphis and organized a telethon to raise more than $1 million for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. And the last two years, he has organized alumni games at Rupp Arena to benefit a handful of charities.

"When you're the head coach at Kentucky, you have an ability to move people throughout the state and fans throughout the country that are the Big Blue Nation," Calipari told Kentucky Wildcats TV on Wednesday night. "Rallying them and keeping them involved and active is part of what your job is."

Kentucky isn't the only college team raising money for victims of Sandy. Closer to home, Hofstra will provide free tickets to its men's basketball home opener next Friday to anyone who brings in items to help the relief efforts.

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