Much has been made recently of my open invitation to our former University of Kentucky players to return to campus during the summers – or in the players’ downtime – to work toward completing their college degrees. I thought now would be a good time to clarify and expound on why we are doing this and how I envision it working out.
Let me first say that John Wall has already contacted the University of Kentucky for information on enrolling in summer classes. I have heard from several other ex-Wildcats of their intentions to do the same thing. Nothing thrills me more to hear about guys in our family committing themselves to furthering their studies.
We’re in a different collegiate environment these days and even though we are preparing our guys to move forward and pursue their dreams a little quicker than in the past, I still have the duty, responsibility and honor of helping them finish their degrees. That’s another key part of being a players-first program; just because a young man has an opportunity to leave early doesn’t mean they can’t continue their academic pursuits. I’m happy to say that Wayne Turner finished his classwork and as of this weekend, is a proud graduate of the University of Kentucky. That’s what this is all about.
By having our players back on campus during the summer – or in the Fall if the NBA lockout occurs – they are also afforded the opportunity to train in the our state-of-the-art facilities at the Joe Craft Center. Although NCAA rules allow for undergraduate student assistant coaches, we don’t anticipate many former players are willing to enroll as a full-time students to fill those roles. This is the commendable program that allowed Wayne to be part of our Final Four staff while completing his degree. Even if they aren’t enrolled in classes, we’re happy to give our family a place to train in a private and world-class manner. In that vein I have already let some of my former players from both UMass and Memphis know that they too are welcome to use our facilities.
For us at Kentucky, it’s the only way we know of following through on the commitments we make to these young men and their families during the recruiting process. Whether you’re here 1, 2, 3 or 4 years, our insistence on completing coursework is unwavering.
***Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon discuss Coach Calipari’s invite to former players on ESPN’s PTI, Friday, May 6, 2011 (Begins at 12:20 mark)