Memphis cancels plans to honor John Calipari


Memphis isn’t honoring John Calipari after all.

On Wednesday, Memphis president David Rudd announced that the school would be honoring its former basketball coach for being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Besieged by negative reaction to the idea, Rudd announced Thursday that the school had decided not to hold a dinner in Calipari’s honor, tweeting out a copy of a statement.

Memphis Commercial-Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins wrote Thursday that Memphis honoring the current Kentucky coach is a “miserable idea.” An excerpt:

And yes, this is where we can all acknowledge that Calipari did many good things for Memphis, and that the Calipari era was a blast, and that the man may be the best coach — in any sport — Memphis has ever had. All that is true. Just as it is true that Calipari left Memphis on probation. And that he inserted clauses in the letters of intent of his last set of recruits so they would be released if and when he skipped town. And that he stalled his exit from Memphis so he could talk to those recruits as the Memphis coach and persuade them to join him in Lexington. And that, as recently as four months ago, he compared coaching at Memphis to “sitting at the little table. You never got to carve the turkey. You had plastic forks and plates and that’s what it was.”

Much of the reaction is understandable. One part of it is not. The only reason John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were going to Memphis was because of John Calipari. Of course, they were going to follow the coach to Kentucky. They had every right to do that. It’s almost common practice now for schools to allow signees out of their letter-of-intent when the head coach leaves for another school. If Memphis fans are still upset over that, they need to get with the times.

By the way, UMass is still planning on honoring Calipari.

Related links

Calipari’s spot in the Hall of Fame is well-deserved; here’s why

Pat Riley explains how he became a Hall of Fame presenter for Calipari

Follow John Clay on Twitter


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