The Dean's List
Welcome to the latest installment of the Dean's List, where we'd like to remind you to always use discretion when choosing your seat mate on a Greyhound bus in Canada.
The greatest skill necessary to coach in college athletics these days is knowing when to bend the rules and when to admit you bent the rules and claim it wasn't your fault. Kelvin Sampson is not very good at this. John Calipari is. Despite his greased-back hair and slick-talking ways -- Sports Illustrated once called him "the apotheosis of the ambitious, Armani-wrapped basketball coach" -- Calipari has managed to never really land on the NCAA's bad side. When Marcus Camby admitted he'd accepted gifts from agents while still a student at UMass, Calipari pleaded ignorance. No doubt he'll do the same now that Memphis has reported a possible violation to the NCAA after it was revealed that school booster and FedEx president Dave Bronczek called the mother of highly-coveted recruit Abdul Gaddy. Bronczek apologized and said Calipari had nothing to do with the phone call, which nobody believes but the NCAA. Most likely, this will end up being a secondary violation and result in nothing more than a slap on the wrist for the Tigers. Here's what the Dean's List doesn't understand: If Calipari is such a magician why can't his teams shoot free throws?
If you're in the market for a top-of-the-line basketball recruit these days, there's really only one sure way to snag him -- hire his AAU coach. Baylor coach Scott Drew understands the strategy. After an encouraging season that ended in a disappointing loss to Purdue, Drew has decided to take his program to the next level and to do that, he'll need a ridiculously good player, a player like John Wall. At 6-foot-4 with lightening quickness and superhuman handle, Wall is the top player in the class of 2009. So how is Drew going to get Wall to choose Baylor, a low- to mid-level Big 12 program still rebuilding after an epic scandal, over the likes of Kentucky, N.C. State, and Oklahoma State? No problem. He's hired Dwon Clifton, Wall's AAU coach, as Baylor's director of player development. I wonder which player Clifton will be developing...
If we're going to call the amateur athletes who compete in college sports "student athletes," then let's treat them like both students and athletes. Let's allow them to do what we encourage other intelligent students around the country to do -- question the norm, speak out and take a stand. Last week at Big East football media day, West Virginia quarterback Pat White expressed his opinion. He noticed that the Mountaineer baseball team didn't have many black players and accused baseball coach Greg Van Zant of not pursuing more black athletes. It seems a quarterback is an athlete first and a student second, because one day later, after what we assume was a fair amount of pressure from the athletic department, White released a canned statement apologizing for overstating his feelings. Don't apologize, Pat. A quarterback is a terrible thing to waste.
Arkansas coach John Pelphrey knows a thing or two about loyalty. He grew up in Kentucky, was named Kentucky's "Mr. Basketball" and matriculated to the University of Kentucky. In his first season as a Wildcat, the NCAA hit the program with major sanctions and coach Eddie Sutton was forced to resign. Despite the sanctions, Pelphrey wouldn't abandon his school and, by the end of his senior season, he'd led an underdog Kentucky squad to the Elite Eight where "The Unforgettables" lost a heartbreaker to Christian Laettner's Blue Devils. Now that Pelphrey is the coach in Fayetteville, Arkansas is trying to show some loyalty of its own. As a reward for leading the Razorbacks to their first NCAA tournament victory since 1999, the university has given Pelphrey a $45,000 raise and extended his contract by a year. The next pay bump will come when he figures out how to get within 30 points of UNC.
More SI On Campus