LEXINGTON, Ky. — Well, they went there. Sort of. Rival rick Pitino joined Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari on his podcast, and the two Hall of Famers talked about Louisville’s recent scandal, which involved an assistant coach providing prostitutes for players and led to a notice of allegations from the NCAA.
“There’s a big difference between responsibility and accountability,” Calipari says, explaining his long-held view that head coaches are responsible for their entire program, but cannot fairly be held accountable for every detail, for things over which they have little or no control. “I have curfew and there are things that happen. We’re doing everything we can.”
Then, without mentioning the Cardinals’ scandal specifically, he asks Pitino where he stands on responsibility versus accountability. Pitino has steadfastly denied knowledge of the bad behavior, which happened in the players’ dorm named after his deceased brother-in-law, but the NCAA charged him with failure to monitor.
“Well, it’s just like being a parent, John,” Pitino says on the podcast, noting that you try to teach your children right from wrong and set limits, but there’s only so much to be done when they’re away from home. With college athletes, “they’re of the age right now where you’d like to think your players are going to do the right things. And certainly we want the responsibility, we want the accountability … but we can’t be the scapegoats for the ills of society. And that’s what happens sometimes. I went through it in my situation right now. I went through it, and it would be the furthest thing I would ever, ever think.”
Earlier in the podcast, which was largely a love-fest between the two rivals, Calipari rattled off a long list of former Pitino assistants who’d gone on to great success as head coaches. He said no one better prepares assistants for that leap than Pitino.
“If I have 29 that went on to prosperity and one went the wrong way, well, I’ve got to be accountable for that one person,” Pitino tells Calipari. “And I feel very saddened that he did the wrong thing. That being said, there’s certain things we can’t control in our lives. This is a college atmosphere right now and certain things that we’re not in control of.”
Calipari, who has had Final Fours at Massachusetts and Memphis vacated for NCAA violations (he was not charged in either case), said that he agreed with Pitino.
“I’ve said it all along: If a coach has done something, OK,” Calipari said. “But to the black eye of vacating games and all the other stuff … I just think you’re right.”
How about that? Calipari and Pitino agree on something – and it’s Louisville’s scandal, of all things. Listen to the full podcast here: