On Wednesday afternoon, the COIA — which is something called the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics — released a statement that took a hatcher to Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
The full letter can be found here, but for those that don’t have the time or the desire to read every word that these COIA folks have to say, the gist is this: Other programs should not schedule games against John Calipari on neutral courts because playing games on neutral courts will ruin college basketball and turn it into professional basketball.
Never mind the fact that college basketball’s national championship — the event that pumps almost $800 million into the NCAA’s budget annually — is played on neutral courts.
Honestly, I don’t really have any interest in delving into everything that’s wrong with COIA’s judgement here, especially when Matt Norlander already sliced into it like an amateur surgeon high on cocaine. But I have to wonder just how much the committee cringed when, later Wednesday evening, Calipari announced that during the 2013-2014 season, Kentucky would be playing a double-header with their women’s team against both of Baylor’s programs at the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. It will be in exchange for a game at Rupp this coming season.
(For what it’s worth, there is a very specific reason that Cal wanted to play in Cowboys Stadium during the 2013-2014 season. Well, two reasons, actually: the Harrison twins. Aaron and Andrew are both top ten recruits in the Class of 2013 and at the top of Kentucky’s list of targets. They also happen to hail from Richmond, Texas, which is right outside Houston and within driving distance of Dallas. Home game, anyone?)
Kentucky also announced that they had agreed to restart the North Carolina series with home-and-homes that alternate with the Louisville game during the 2013-2014 season that they would be working on a neutral court series with Duke that would begin during the 2013-2014 season. The Wildcats will also play Michigan State in Chicago that season.
Honestly, I don’t have a huge problem with this kind of scheduling. Obviously, holding the best college basketball games of the season in on-campus venues is ideal. The environment is better and, frankly, college basketball just feels right when it is played at Rupp or Assembly Hall or Cameron Indoor Stadium. But there is a method to Cal’s madness, one that I have a hard time disagreeing with. The NCAA tournament is played on neutral courts. The Final Four is played in a football stadium. Getting used to playing in those environs, especially for a team that will perpetually be filled with freshmen, is a smart move for a coach trying to win a national title.
He’s also not the first coach to figure this out.
Personally, I’d rather the game be played on a neutral court than not played at all.
You hear that, Tom Crean?