Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dick Vitale Comments on Rick Pitino and John Calipari

There is an excellent Q&A on Hoopsworld.com today with the legendary college basketball icon Dick Vitale. In the conversation, Vitale is asked for some comments on Rick Pitino and John Calipari. Here is an excerpt:

Q: This summer, two coaches dominated the headlines - Pitino and Calipari. How damaged are their legacies after Pitino’s sex scandal and Calipari had another Final Four scrubbed from the books?

Vitale: It certainly doesn’t help their image, or their resume, and it brings the doubters out in full force. However - remember this - Rick Pitino has said it once, twice, 20 times, 50 times: He made a mistake. He made an absolute mistake. No doubt whatsoever. What he did, as a married guy, he knows was wrong. However - saying all that … he was a victim of an extortion attempt. The trial is coming up. This woman has been charged with extortion, which is a criminal offense.

Rick, when I talked to him [Friday] … is so dedicated to two factors: Family and Louisville basketball. That’s all he wants to concentrate on and that’s all he wants to do. As long he has admitted to his wife and kids what a mistake he made … you know, people make mistakes.

Now, Calipari. They vacated his Final Four with Memphis and I think that’s a crime. I don’t think that should be vacated. On three occasions, the NCAA clearinghouse was there in Memphis and cleared Derrick Rose to play. Flat out said, ‘play him, he’s eligible.’ Why have a clearinghouse? If they tell you somebody is eligible … don’t you have to take some responsibility as the clearinghouse? I don’t think they have any right to take away that banner. You said he was eligible.

I think Memphis got a raw deal, and I’d be very surprised if Memphis doesn’t win that appeal. I know 90 percent of time you don’t win appeal, but I have a funny feeling here … Memphis has a legit argument in this cause.

Q: But this is the 2nd time Calipari’s had a Final Four scrubbed away.

Vitale: I’m trying to defend what’s right - in [the Massachusetts] case, the NCAA came in and said John Calipari, in no way, shape or form, was involved in the problem with Marcus Camby. He got involved with an agent, took things he shouldn’t have taken, but Calipari and his people were not aware of it. In today’s day and age, whenever you recruit the question mark student who is a great, great player, and he’s surrounded by an entourage, you are now opening yourself up for incredible scrutiny because you have no control of that entourage. You think you do, but you don’t. You don’t know what’s going on, you can’t live with a kid 24-7.

Until someone comes to me and proves without a doubt that Calipari is involved in those shenanigans and is involved … I can’t hold them guilty. If you’re anti-Calipari, you’re going to use that to bury him. If you’re a guy who just looks at what’s right, and see what he’s done, and about the graduation - that’s another thing he gets a bum rap for … his kids have graduated; he’s got a terrific graduation rate - but yet nobody wants to hear that.

My Thoughts: Some very good comments out of Dickie V in this interview. I totally agree with him on all points.

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