April 22, 2011
Last weekend, Knight accused the Kentucky basketball team for having a poor academic record, not going to class and encouraging the "one-and-done" culture that has taken over college basketball.
On Thursday, Calipari composed an essay -- complete with some resume highlights as clickable pop-ups -- describing his "Players-First" program. The program is separated into three parts that describe Calipari's actions with individual players from recruiting to after the season.
1. During the recruiting process, we don't make outlandish promises about playing time, starting positions, minutes, shots, points or anything to these young men that we can't keep. At Kentucky, you have to work for everything and compete every day at the highest level.
2. The second part is that once the season begins, we are teaching players to be the teammate they want to play with. Our whole focus is on team play. I want individuals to play well but I'm getting them to understand nothing of significance will be accomplished by themselves.
3. Lastly when the season is over, when our TEAM is done playing, my job is to help them make the best decisions, with the best information I can give them, for them and their families. I'm not trying to convince them to come back if that's not in their best interest. Likewise, I'm never trying to shove anybody out the door.
It's important to note that nowhere in these three parts does Calipari mention education, but then he would probably have to rename the program the "Student-Athlete-First" program.
The fact that nothing about education was noted doesn't really help Calipari's case against the accusations levied by Knight. If anything, it actually shows that Calipari's sole focus is getting players to achieve whatever level they desire in their basketball careers and not work toward their degree.
The whole note is actually kind of odd. It's like Calipari's justification to Kentucky fans that he doesn't encourage "one-and-done's" but also doesn't discourage them either. He's an equal opportunity coach. That when the season is going, the entire focus in on Kentucky and that season, but when the year is over, Calipari's not going to sway a player one way or the other.
It's a telling commentary on how Calipari views himself as a basketball coach and as a mentor toward his players. It also provides a look at where education falls in that hierarchy.
"The Truth is that these top players in the country want to play for a certain kind of coach in a certain kind of program," Calipari writes. "They are not playing for just any coach. They want to play with someone who has proven results."