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Kentucky Basketball: This Is How Careful You Have To Be When You're John Calipari

Everyone knows that reporters and sports columnists have their harpoons sharpened for Kentucky coach John Calipari.  Getting the "white whale" is not just a priority for reporters like Pete Thamel, but also for guys like Cameron Smith at Yahoo! sports:

Now Kentucky coach John Calipari, who is no stranger to recruiting controversy, may have gone old school to try and get around the restrictions that keep him from making public comments about high school prospects. On Thursday, Calipari told a Canadian prep hoops reporter that he thought Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep star Anthony Bennett "would be a nice fit for the Wildcats," a statement which that reporter, North Pole Hoops editor Tariq Sbiet, then Tweeted out publicly.

The reporter in question then withdrew the tweet, but not before some sites such as Yahoo! had made screen captures and questioned whether or not it was a violation of NCAA rules, specifically Bylaw 13.10.2, which states in toto:

13.10.2 Comments Before Signing. Before the signing of a prospective student-athlete to a National Letter of Intent or an institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid, a member institution may comment publicly only to the extent of confirming its recruitment of the prospective student-athlete. The institution may not comment generally about the prospective student-athlete’s ability or the contribution that the prospective student-athlete might make to the institution’s team; further, the institution is precluded from commenting in any manner as to the likelihood of the prospective student-athlete’s signing with that institution. Violations of this bylaw do not affect a prospective student-athlete’s eligibility and are considered institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1. (Revised: 1/14/97)

The question then becomes, does this constitute a public comment by Calipari?  Obviously, since Calipari did not tweet out the comment, by the letter of the rule, it clearly doesn't. 

But the article questions whether or not Calipari intended for the reporter to publish the comment, either on Twitter or any other forum.  One could make an convincing argument that if Calipari made the comment "on the record" to a known media member, it certainly would fall under the prohibition of this rule.

As the article notes, it's really impossible to know the motivation behind Calipari's comment, and frankly, it's dangerous ground for the NCAA to get into the mind-reading business given the controversy over how they have performed with actual facts.  But that certainly won't stop reporters and opposing blogs, God bless 'em.

Truth be told, it is entirely possible that Calipari got the result he intended, although my tendency in matters such as these is to apply Hanlon's Razor

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Not to call Calipari stupid in this case, but perhaps a little careless.  It's much easier to envisage an ebullient Calipari in a casual conversation with Sbiet making that comment and Sbiet just promptly tweeting it out without thinking than to see a cold, calculating Calipari, with malice aforethought and Satanic horns peeking out of his coiffure, waiting anxiously for Sbiet's tweet and smiling knowingly when he sees it.  Of course, the reverse would no doubt be easier for Pat Forde, Dan Wolken, or a random Louisville Cardinals fan.

In the end, even if the Kentucky or the NCAA thought Calipari's remark to Sbiet ran afoul of Bylaw 13.10.2, it would be only a secondary violation with no real consequences that I can see.  But that isn't going to happen, there is simply no evidence that I know of to support the claim that it was an intentional act and not just a comment intended to be off the record.

There is a lesson to be learned here, though, and that is that you can't be too careful when your name is John Calipari.