BOZICH | John Calipari tosses Rick Pitino a lifeline - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | John Calipari tosses Rick Pitino a lifeline

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John Calipari (right) and Rick Pitino have been intense rivals for more than a year. John Calipari (right) and Rick Pitino have been intense rivals for more than a year.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – We’ve heard from everybody but Charles Barkley, President Obama and Megyn Kelly on the sex scandal percolating around the University of Louisville basketball team.

The list of personalities who have addressed the situation now includes Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, a Louisville rival.

Speaking Wednesday at UK’s annual basketball media day in Lexington, Calipari was asked about the scandal alleged to involve female escorts and recruits that has pushed Rick Pitino’s program into the news.

Calipari did not pass and ask for the next question. (John Lewis covered the event  for WDRB Sports.)

“I would say I hope it’s not true,” Calipari said. “If any of it is, it’s not good for college basketball. It’s not the norm.

“And I would say this: If any of it is (accurate), I can’t believe (Rick Pitino) would know anything about it, just knowing him as I do.

"But, no, I haven't reached out (to Pitino). I just didn't think it was appropriate."

Pitino has said several times, including Tuesday at the U of L basketball tip-off luncheon, that if the allegations in the book, “Breaking Cardinals Rules,” are true he was not aware that anybody on his staff was breaking NCAA rules.

Calipari and Pitino have had a frosty relationship since they clashed as opponents in Conference USA more than a decade ago when Calipari coached at Memphis. Recruiting bruises are also part of the equation.

Several years ago, Calipari disputed part of the story that Pitino was responsible for helping him land the head coaching job at Massachusetts, Pitino’s alma mater. Pitino is not a fan of the one-and-done philosophy in college basketball. Calipari has sent a string of players to the NBA after one season at Kentucky. It’s a staple of the program.

Although the two coaches have praised each other on multiple occasions since UK and U of L played in the 2012 NCAA Final Four in New Orleans, friends of both men have told me they’re intense competitors who are not friends, despite their public pronouncements.

Calipari has dominated the UK-U of L basketball rivalry over his first six seasons at Kentucky, winning seven of eight games, including two meetings in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals and Wildcats will play at noon on Dec. 26 in Rupp Arena.

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