The hall of fame induction of John Calipari isn’t going to be celebrated by a team he coached in the past, the Memphis Tigers, as the idea brought up by school President M. David Rudd caused a huge uproar among the fanbase.
Calipari coached Memphis from 2000 to 2009, turning them from an NIT team to one of the best in the nation, including reaching the NCAA Tournament final in 2008, losing to Kansas. That season was vacated, and after one more season with the Tigers, he took the offer from Kentucky. He didn’t just leave to the Wildcats; he took a whole lot of recruits with him. Memphis haven’t been terrible since he’s been gone, but it hasn’t been the same.
For some reason, Rudd thought that honoring Calipari would go down nicely with the school’s fans. Many of them called Rudd and sent him e-mails, expressing what a bad idea this was, and Rudd cancelled the opportunity to recognize Calipari’s hall of fame enshrinement and his achievements with Memphis.
I apologize for the unnecessary upset, embarrassment and genuine distress generated by the issue of honoring Coach John Calipari on the occasion of his installation into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. I responded to every call, read every email and post. I was deeply troubled by how upset people were at the idea. I recognize this will not end the debate and discussion, but it will put this chapter to rest for our University, fans and community.
Since joining Kentucky in 2009, Calipari has taken the Wildcats to four Final Fours and two national championship games, winning the title, his first as head coach, in 2012. After hearing about the backlash from Memphis fans regarding his return, he said that whatever Memphis does is fine with him.
They gave me a chance to revive my career. There’s many friends that I have there that’ll be here, and I’m excited for all the players that are going to be here, and it was a great time. My wife and I have many great friends, so it’s good.