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Kentucky, NCAA in silly tiff over Calipari’s career win total


Want to celebrate a coach’s milestone victory? Turns out NCAA approval is occasionally required.

The NCAA’s mad at Kentucky for honoring coach John Calipari in February for his 500th career victory. At issue – the vacated victories from Calipari’s past.

Official NCAA statistics say Calipari’s at 467 career wins, reflecting the vacated games while at UMass and Memphis. Technically, he didn’t reach 500 after the Wildcats beat Florida on Feb. 26. And the NCAA wants Kentucky to acknowledge as much.

Not sure the school’s going along with this one. Not without a big stink, at least. And why shouldn’t they? This whole thing was a big stupid mess from the start. So stupid, I need to just have Jerry Tipton recount the whole thing.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

An early February email sent to the NCAA sparked the debate about Calipari’s victory total. The email — sent by what UK senior associate athletics director Sandy Bell termed “a fan of a rival program” — said Kentucky was mistakenly counting the vacated victories on its Web site and media guide. The NCAA told Bell of the complaint on Feb. 4.

In her same-day response to the NCAA, Bell said she alerted DeWayne Peevy, UK’s associate athletics director for media relations. Bell later told the NCAA that Peevy asked the NCAA on March 2 if UK needed to subtract the 42 victories from Calipari’s total or merely note them.

Bell wrote Todd on April 5 that the response from Gary Johnson, the person who heads men’s basketball statistics for the NCAA, was: “You can say he has 1,000 wins if you want. But if you want to agree with what his official record is, then you have to account for those vacates.”

Bell said UK interpreted that to mean it could recognize 500 or more victories as long as it “accounted” for the vacates.

Thomas disagreed. “Recognizing Mr. Calipari for a fictitious 500th win does not properly ‘account’ for the vacation of wins,” he wrote Todd.

According to Thomas’ letter, Peevy again checked with the NCAA about whether beating Florida marked Calipari’s 500th victory at 5:52 p.m. the day of the game. Thomas wrote that the timing was “troubling” because it was “just minutes before the Florida game concluded. ...

“Clarification of Mr. Calipari’s record should have been sought long before ... “

The NCAA first asked UK to explain its handling of Calipari’s record in a letter dated March 15.

Bell responded in the April 5 letter to Todd. While saying “our media guide will be corrected next year,” Bell wrote Todd that the athletics department felt its recognizing Calipari’s 500th victory was correct.

Sure, the NCAA is technically correct. But this whole thing seems incredibly pointless – a tiff over a postgame handshake and a few pleasantries? – and an exercise in silly power struggles.

What’s the point? Kentucky apologizes and people forget? I’m with Eric Crawford. Just write a half-assed apology that doesn’t serve as an apology at all.

Technically, Calipari didn’t win his 500th game. So the NCAA can technically receive an apology.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.