Speaking at a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame on Thursday night on the southside of Indianapolis, former IU coach Bob Knight voiced his displeasure with the lack of integrity that exists in college sports today. That included this gem of a quote about first-year Kentucky head coach, John Calipari:
“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching. You see we’ve got a coach at Kentucky (John Calipari), who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that.”
“And very few people know this, but a kid can play the first semester as a freshman, pass six hours of anything and play in the NCAA tournament without ever attending a class in the second semester. I don’t think that’s right.”
The second part of Knight’s quote is precisely what was running through my mind as I sat in Calipari’s postgame press conference last Saturday and listened to him talk about John Wall as if he was a Rhodes Scholar.
This is not so much a problem specifically with Wall, Calipari or Kentucky, but it speaks more to what the one-and-done rule is doing to college basketball. The NBA is using the NCAA as a de facto minor league system.
Take Wall for example: He’s much more valuable to the league from a publicity standpoint after a year at a storied program like Kentucky than he would have been coming straight to the NBA from Raleigh. He’s the story of college basketball and will now come into the NBA as a marketable, known commodity.
If what Knight hypothesizes about a kid only taking six hours first semester and never going to class second semester is true, and I’m sure it is, perhaps the NCAA is due for some soul searching to define the true meaning of ‘student-athlete.’