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Calipari Suggests Solutions for NCAA Troubles

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Copyright 2018 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

LEXINGTON, KY. — For now, "agent" is a dirty word in college basketball, as players aren't allowed to have official representation or collect any money for their talents until they've declared intentions to turn professional.

But given the agent-related bombshell that has rocked the sport, NCAA president Mark Emmert seems to be changing his tune on those rules. If he needs suggestions, Kentucky coach John Calipari has several.

"I've said that we need to work with the [NBA] Players Association, who oversee the agents, and see what do they think the solution is," Calipari said Tuesday afternoon. "I think baseball and hockey is a little bit different than what we deal with, but these kids deserve advisors as they're moving through this process. But the way it's done right now, it's an issue."

High school baseball and hockey players who are drafted prior to college enrollment are allowed to have agents negotiate their contracts - they cannot receive any other benefits - while athletes in football, basketball and all other sports cannot have any official representation.

"It makes perfect sense to me that it ought to be very different than it is now," Emmert acknowledged this week.

Calipari believes change is coming, but he wonders how quickly.

"The problem with the NCAA: It's slow-moving. This one doesn't need to be slow-moving," he said. "It's not going to be perfect for every program. See, the issue you have when you have all these teams: What's right for these 50 [top-level programs] may not be right for these 200, and guess who votes? [All 351 Division I programs.]"

The implication there is that there are many more programs who would find no benefit to allowing athletes to sign with agents or profit in any way from their likeness or talent while in college. To those schools, allowing such things would only widen the gap between haves and have-nots.

Still, "I'm counting on that they'll come to their senses," Calipari said. "I think these kids should be able to use their likeness, make money from their signatures. It's their name and likeness, not ours. It's theirs. They should be able to make money. Maybe the school manages it, maybe the money goes to their parents for travel, maybe there's a limit on what they can do and the rest they get when they leave here. It's all stuff that can be done easily. You see all the Olympians, there's stuff that can be done. You just can't say, 'Well, we don't do it that way.' "

Calipari was asked if that would save college basketball from all the shadiness and scandal that seems to be dragging the sport through the mud almost daily now.

"You can't legislate morality," Calipari said. "You can't. But I am in the homes of the kids that we're talking about and they don't want [handouts] - they want their own dignity. They don't want to be beholden to anybody. You think of your own family, growing up, your parents: There's pride. Even if there's nothing here, this is still ours. So these families want dignity and they want to do it themselves.

"I come back to the [NBA] Players Association should loan kids money. Let them take a loan from the Players Association. What's the problem? For travel to games and NCAA games and everything. Why [not]? 'Well, the kid at this school won't get it.' Guess what? This isn't communism. [Not everyone] can get a home loan. 'I demand it because he got a home loan!' I'm sorry, not how it works in our country. So kids who have pro potential and want to take a loan so that their families don't have to deal with it, why can't you?"

The issue hit Kentucky last week when former player Bam Adebayo and current freshman Kevin Knox were named in a Yahoo Sports report for their alleged meetings/dealings with agents -specifically Andy Miller, who is at the center of the FBI's investigation.

Kentucky conducted an internal investigation, and both Calipari and Knox denied any relationship with Miller. Knox was deemed eligible and will continue to play for the Wildcats.

In a statement, the school said that it "immediately reviewed the matter and, based on the available information, determined that there were no eligibility issues or rules violations for any current student-athletes or staff related to Friday's report. Kentucky will continue to work diligently with both the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference."

Adebayo, now in his rookie season with the Miami Heat, was referenced in the report as a "bad loan" in the amount of $36,500.

Calipari said the focus has to be on the players when it comes to rule changes.

"If we stay focused on how this affects these young people, we won't make mistakes," Calipari said. "When we're worried about a bureaucracy and keeping a bureaucracy running, you're always going to make mistakes."

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March 1, 2018
 
 
 

 

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