UK got it right in getting it wrong

Admittedly, I really dislike University of Kentucky athletics.

Admittedly, I really, really dislike John Calipari.

Maybe that’s it’s taken me so long to post what I’m about to post: UK athletics made the right call in rewarding Cal for his 500th win on Saturday.

If you haven’t heard about this, UK basketball beat Florida on Saturday, which was the 500th game John Calipari has won as a coach. After the game, UK recognized Cal and he briefly posed with the game ball in celebration. Problem is, it was only the 458th game Calipari won as a coach.

Confused? Here’s the deal: Coach Cal coached two teams that were forced to forfeit a total of 42 wins because of NCAA rules violations. Though Cal was never found to be at fault for those infractions at Memphis and UMass, the ruling from the NCAA calls for the victories to be stricken both from the schools’ records and the coach’s. So, according to the NCAA, the win over Florida was Cal’s 458th.

There’s been a lot of speculation over whether Cal’s a dirty coach or just unlucky, and frankly, the opinions of fans don’t count. Kentucky took a risk in hiring Calipari and most of the UK faithful have embraced him. He’s brought in good recruits and took a young and incredibly talented team to the Elite Eight last season. He’s on just about every commercial on television in Kentucky. What UK did on Saturday was exactly what a good employer should do: it stood behind its employee, who just so happens to be the face of the college basketball program..

Again, I don’t like Cal and I don’t pull for UK. At all. I do respect what UK did though. It solidified the base of UK fans against the NCAA, which doesn’t have the best reputation for its enforcement of rules. By hiring Calipari, UK made it known that it doesn’t believe Calipari was guilty of breaking rules anyway. True UK fans were forced to accept that conclusion and most of those I’ve met (and argued with) have come to the same conclusion. It was therefore only right to award the coach for hitting 500. It doesn’t matter if you go with UK’s count or the NCAA’s, Kentucky stuck to its guns in recognizing the win.

So, while I won’t go so far as to congratulate Coach Cal, I do congratulate UK athletics for staying consistent in its decisions and making the right call.