John Calipari is now the head basketball coach at Kentucky. He is going to make an unconscionable amount of money. Kentucky is banking he can rebuild the once proud program there. He is talented, driven, and has a proven track record. Good for him.
Now, it is time to talk about the elephant on the basketball court. There is a serious need for some sort of a collegiate version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule. For the uniniated, the Rooney Rule was established in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and head of the league’s diversity committee. The rule requires NFL franchises to at least interview qualified minority candidates for open head coaching positions. This rule has proven to open doors otherwise closed to high caliber minority candidates.
John Calipari was all but handed the Kentucky job on a silver platter without as much as a mention of a minority coach in the sights of one of college basketball’s most storied program. Before Calipari, the target was Billy Donovan at Florida who promptly turned down the overture. That is two primary candidates neither of which represents a minority by almost any definition of the word. I ask, why? Why, when there are clearly qualified minority candidates available, did Kentucky not extend the courtesy?
Tubby Smith, who left Kentucky with more than a little help, and turned Minnesota into a tourney team in two years, already broke the minority barrier at Kentucky. He was successful and had the unenviable task of following Rick Pitino. So, this is not about setting precedent that was not already in place. Kentucky was in a place to not only rebuild its program, but to continue to build bridges for minority head coaches in basketball. And they simply did not even blink an eye at it.
Meanwhile, SEC fellow school Alabama hired its first minority head coach of a major sport by tabbing Anthony Grant (previously successful at VCU) as its coach. Georgia has made a $2 million a year offer to Missouri coach Mike Anderson. (Anderson’s Missouri team ran Calipari’s Memphis team off the court in the tournament this year, you might remember.)
It’s not just about hiring a minority for the sake of hiring a minority. That is ridiculous. It is about providing the opportunity to bright, proven, successful coaches who are also minority candidates.
Alabama’s move to hire Grant was not only important because of his racial identity, but because he was because the man can coach basketball, takes an interest in representing his university with class, and works to make sure his players take advantage of the educational opportunities. Anderson was widely criticized when he left UAB for Mizzou and he has quickly instilled discipline and class in that once troubled program.
I stand amazed at how little attention this is getting in the mainstream media. I suppose winning is everything. Equality be its victim.Powered by Sidelines