Another Scandal In Kentucky??

By Dr. Boyce Watkins, BASN Contributor
Updated: January 8, 2010

NEW YORK (BASN) — I graduated from the University of Kentucky.

Most of my black classmates from the 1990s have a scar on their heart from the racism experienced on that campus and the broken promises that the university made.

In the early 1990s, the president made a series of public commitments about increasing the presence of black faculty, with almost none of those promises being kept nearly 20 years later.

Apparently, breaking promises is also something that they do on the basketball court, where black men are used up like dishrags and spit out in to the street.

An episode of ESPN “Outside the Lines” is due to air this week, featuring the massive roster changes of the University of Kentucky basketball team after the arrival of their coach, John Calipari.

Mind you, the NCAA is the first to tell you that they are all about education, yet Kentucky pays John Calipari millions in spite of the fact that his graduation rates have been abysmal.

Additionally, Calipari has been found guilty of a long list of NCAA violations, which consistently jeopardize the academic futures of the athletes with whom he works.

This is what the University of Kentucky appears to be all about.

Here are some quotes from individuals involved in the ESPN episode, set to air this week. In the conversation, former players describe how Calipari brought them in to his office and pressured them in to leaving the university: “It hurt because I abided by the rules. I did everything I was supposed to. … Kept up a good GPA, went to class every day, didn’t fail any tests. …. I feel like just for following my part of the contract, they should follow theirs.”

- Matt Pilgrim , forward, on feeling pressured to leave the UK. “He was very clear and very honest that (some) may not fit this dribble-drive approach. … It’s a decision that they jointly made, that they might find more playing time elsewhere.”

- Dr. Lee Todd Jr. , president of the University of Kentucky, on what Calipari told players who eventually left. Amazing, so even the president of the university is justifying a warped decision to convince a student to switch colleges because of the basketball team?

“If you talk to the average scholarship athlete, they believe they’re on a four-year scholarship or maybe a five-year scholarship. …. But the reality is, there’s no such thing as a four- or- five-year scholarship. There’s only a one-year renewable.”

- Ramogi Huma, head of an advocacy group that lobbies the NCAA and government on behalf of athletes.

Here’s the deal: The NCAA doesn’t care about it’s athletes, and neither does the University of Kentucky. Athletes in revenue-generating sports (most of them black) are used on the field, have their labor rights stripped from them and are then left with a mediocre education that comes from being asked to spend more time on the basketball court than in the classroom.

This incident with Calipari is yet another example of the massive contradiction inherent in NCAA sports.

It’s time to have a congressional hearing.