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.