"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Friday, March 19, 2010

Really Quick Sports Thought

So Charles Pierce had a piece in Slate the other day about how Kentucky's John Calipari is the sleaziest coach in college basketball, which is a really high and sleazy bar.  I don't care much for Calipari- he always leaves schools mired in scandal, with whole season wiped from the record book.  To me he epitomizes the hypocrisy on the NCAA- grown-up coaches can leave their programs without a problem, but if kids want to transfer they can lose a year of eligibility.   But Calipari is probably no more guilty of these sins than many others- that isn't exactly an exoneration, mind you.

But whatever quibbles one might have with Pierce's article, the whole thesis is incorrect.  How can anyone be named the sleaziest coach in college hoops in a world where Bob Huggins exists?  A string of DUIs, no control over players, and, worst of all, shockingly low graduation rates.

As for academics, 27 of 95 Huggins' players graduated from Cincinnati or another university in his 16 years.  That’s a 28% graduation rate overall, including those students who transferred.  Huggins also had four seasons where the NCAA reported the Cincinnati men’s basketball graduation rate to be zero.  Even at the time Huggins was forced to resign, again according to university officials, one of his players had been maintaining a 0.0 GPA, and another would have had a 0.0 if not for two incompletes.

Huggins has a long track record of picking kids up and spitting them out when the season is over.  They are ballplayers, and that is it- winning is the only thing.  Of course the kids are complicit in this- but they are kids.  Huggins takes no responsibility.  Contrast him with the often (and often justifiably) reviled Bobby Knight, who, for all his temper, made goddamn sure his kids went to class. 

All college sports has this level.  Even in the pristine small schools that sportswriters love the jocks get a lot of breaks.  But Huggins takes it to another level, with no regard for the young men put in his charge.  It is hoops at its worst.

Also, with his track suits and hair, the guy gives the air of a low-level Eastern-European gangster thug.


By the way, this blog is pulling for Butler.  I went there, and follow them with more enthusiasm than I think it appropriate. 


  1. Wait, what? A zero percent graduation rate? A 0.0 GPA? How is that even possible?

    It's like all of my innate biases against college sports are true, and not merely the result of my congenital inability to do anything with a damn ball.

  2. To be fair, that was his 4-yr graduation rate. He had a lot of JuCo transfers. They didn't usually graduate either.

    Huh. Not much of a defense.