According to this story by Andy Katz, the UK basketball team has decided to buy out it's contract with the University of Massachusetts to avoid the return game of a home-and-home that was negotiated when Tubby Smith was the coach.
As many of you know, I am a big-time UK homer, and very often an apologist for them. But not this time. Kentucky broke its word, with Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart begging off due to the fact, apparently, that the new coach had a different schedule in mind. He offers us the excuse that this is the first time UK has done this in his tenure.
Mr. Barnhart, this is highly unethical and a black mark on Kentucky basketball. If the best we can do is to break our word when it is inconvenient to keep it, well, we just aren't setting a very good example for the kids we purport to be educating. UMass contracted with us in good faith, even securing another date when the first one proved to be inconvenient to UK. They worked hard to get this game done, and we hire a new coach and use that as an excuse to screw them.
What sort of leadership is it when you can't tell you new coach that, at UK, we are held to a higher standard of expectations not only on the floor, but in our dealings with other institutions? What I want to know is why you didn't insist that Gillispie honor the commitments made previously by the school? I know it is important to get off on the right foot with the coach, but this is just spineless.
As for Gillispie, he has a duty to live by the commitments the school has made and not try to ram changes down it's throat. It is bad business, poor judgment, and unless I hear a better reason than what I have so far, unethical. Gillispie even refused comment, leaving it to Barnhart to defend the obviously indefensible. If Kentucky is going to stand for excellence, it should be excellence in all things related to basketball, not just national championships and won-lost records.
The article offers us this reasoning as why Kentucky broke its word:
This is a reason? This is ridiculous, gobsmacking, and makes us look totally mercenary. Since when does a top 5 national program tuck it's tail and run from adversity? I am aghast, and highly disappointed in both our coach and AD. When a homer like me goes on a tirade about ethics, can a good mocking by the mainstream sports media be far behind?
Well, life must go on, but this is just unfortunate. UK fans deserve better, and should demand more from our athletic department. So far this week, Kentucky has lost Holsopple and breached a contract. I hope that's the last of the bad news, much more and two weeks will be too long to wait for my summer vacation.
And the mocking begins ...
Answer: The Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky was scheduled to play UMass at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden on Nov. 24, but has instead decided to pay a $50,000 buyout to get out of the game. UMass officials obviously aren't happy. But Kentucky might be on to something here. If the Wildcats can afford to cancel their games against Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia and South Carolina, they have a shot at going undefeated in the SEC in Billy Gillispie's first season on the job. That would be quite an accomplishment!
UK Bias blog looks at the ESPN story that precipitated my post above with a jaundiced eye.
The Boston Herald has picked up the story.
The Minutemen are torqued off big time, and break out the U-word to CSTV. I agree with them.