Basketball coach John Calipari’s comments about Kentucky being a “basketball school” in a recent interview with The Athletic did not go over well in his athletic department.
Calipari made those comments Thursday while trying to drum up support for a new basketball practice facility. When he did that, he offended many in the athletic department including head football coach Mark Stoops.
“This is a basketball school. Alabama is a football school. So is Georgia. No disrespect to our football team. I hope they win 10 games and go to bowls. But this is a basketball school,” Calipari said.
Stoops responded on Twitter, saying “Basketball school? I thought we competed in the SEC?”
— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) August 11, 2022
Calipari’s comments may have fractured relationships within the athletic department, according to Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio, who discussed the situation on his radio show Friday.
“Stoops is like I, for 10 years, have had to fight against that,” Jones said. “… I’m friends with the staff, I asked them before this, what’s the biggest thing you have to work on: ‘Everywhere we go, they say Kentucky, isn’t that a basketball school?’ Literally, I’m not sure there’s a phrase you could say that would make Mark Stoops madder than that one.”
Jones added that not only is Stoops upset, but some Kentucky donors are mad as well.
“This upset a lot of people in football, for real,” Jones said. “Not just in the staff, but in the donor world. He made a mistake and now he’s gotta fix it because they were really upset about it. The tweet, in some ways, was just the tip of the iceberg.”
John Calipari actively downplaying Kentucky's rapid improvement on the football field just so he can get a practice facility. Major yikes. Tom Izzo would never do something like that to MSU football.
If I'm Mark Stoops, I'm pissed.
— Brandon Champion (@BrandonthaChamp) August 11, 2022
Legendary head football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant also coached football at Kentucky, but the reason he left was that the school didn’t make football a priority. Kentucky better hope Stoops doesn’t take his ball and go home too.