Friday night the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame welcomes the 2015 class in Springfield, Massachusetts, and one of those who will receive this prestigious honor is Kentucky head coach John Calipari. Calipari, who won his first national title in 2012 and was two wins from an undefeated season in 2014-15, has won more than 77 percent of his games as a Division I head coach at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky.
Wednesday it was announced by University of Memphis president Dr. M. David Rudd that his school will honor Calipari December 28.
This is an interesting move to say the least, and many of the responses to Dr. Rudd’s announcement were not positive. Thursday morning the school changed its plans for the occasion, with the ceremony now being a dinner to be held December 28. That falls one day before the Tigers host Tulane.
Calipari’s time at Memphis was highly successful, as he lifted the program to national prominence in both recruiting and on-court results. Calipari’s 2008 team reached the national title game, where they fell to Kansas in overtime.
But that season didn’t lack for controversy either, as NCAA violations ultimately led to the Final Four appearance and all 38 of the team’s wins being erased from the record books. It should be noted that the NCAA stated that Calipari was not involved in the rules violations.
Calipari left Memphis for the Kentucky job in the spring of 2009, taking with him a recruiting class that included John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Since his departure after reaching the Sweet 16, Memphis has not advanced past the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
Does time heal all wounds, as the old saying goes? In this particular case, we’ll find out the answer in late December.