Kentucky Basketball: Joe Nocera of the NY Times Knows Not of What He Speaks

Here's a taste of his blog, but you really do need to read it all:

The piece [Calipari's interview with Mike DeCourcy] is interesting on a number of levels—I was particularly amused by his crowing about Kentucky’s high Academic Progress Rate, which he appears to achieve by encouraging his players to jump to the pros before they are seniors, meaning that the fact they don’t graduate isn’t held against the school.

This guy is ostensibly a business columnist who has recently styled himself an NCAA critic -- see a series of FanPosts by Wild Weasel here, here, here, and by me here.

It never ceases to fascinate me how people will twist facts to paint Calipari in a bad light. The truth is, Coach Cal makes sure these guys, many of whom will not be a Kentucky more than a year or two, do their schoolwork and don't jeopardize Kentucky's scholarships by flunking out in their final semester, which would be very tempting to a guy who had no intention of finishing school.

Nocera, however, manages to see the cloud in the silver lining, and completely inverts the entire matter to make Calipari look more like a manipulator. He then goes on to compare him to Jerry Tarkanian (which by my lights can never really be flattering), presumably designed to support his pet theories about the NCAA. The truth is, Nocera is just a know-nothing on the subject, which he more than sufficiently demonstrated in the links above.

Is it really impossible for Nocera to understand that graduating seniors is the only positive impact on the APR, and that any other outcome is at best neutral? Leaving the school in good academic standing and on course for graduation is the best case scenario for a a kid who leaves early. Anything other than that or graduation is bad.

Look, Nocera, criticize the NCAA all you want. Make up whatever you want about them. But before you go smacking Calipari around, you'd better get your ducks in a row. Which reminds me, isn't there a subject you are supposed to be an expert at? Why don't you leave college sports to those who actually have an understanding of the subject, and we'll leave columns about business to you, mmmkay?

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