LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari balked at a question about Rick Pitino during the team’s media day two weeks ago, but on Tuesday he spoke about events at the University of Louisville for the first time since Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were fired this week.

“It’s a sad deal for the guys, and Tom and Rick, I hate that it’s happened this way,” Calipari told host Matt Jones in an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio.

Calipari seemed to butt heads with Pitino at every coaching stop, long before their Red vs. Blue rivalry in the Bluegrass.

“They were always good games,” Calipari said. “I coached against him at UMass, I coached against him in the NBA, I coached against him at Memphis, and every one of those games were good. We were going at each other.”

But the UK coach also said he expects U of L to emerge from its present difficulty successfully.

“For the fans there, Louisville goes way back, whether it be in football, basketball,” Calipari said. “What Denny Crum did there, you think about that, and even before Denny Crum. What about (Howard) Schnellenberger, what he did? . . . And now you’re in the ACC, your facilities are second to none. They’re going to be fine. I hate it for the people, but let me tell you something, it’s important that Louisville does well, because we all in this state need the city of Louisville to do well.”

Calipari ended with a thought on the university’s relationship to the city and the rest of the state.

“Any time we play Louisville, I want us to beat their brains in,” he said. “But I also recognize that the bigger picture is that for this state to make it and do well, the city of Louisville has to make it and do well, which means the University of Louisville has to do well. And the growth of that city, you can tie it right to the university. So I just say, unfortunate what’s happened, and maybe the short-term stuff looks bleak, but I don’t believe that’s even bleak, and I think they’ll be fine.”

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