On Wednesday afternoon, University of Memphis president David Rudd announced that the school would be honoring Coach John Calipari for his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with a dinner on December 28. Calipari, who was head coach of the Memphis Tigers from 2000 to 2009, publicly thanked Rudd and the school: “The university gave me a chance to revive my career and together we built something special that continued today.”
Or not? Just 24 hours after Rudd’s announcement, he recanted his offer to honor Calipari following major backlash from fans who still have ill feelings towards the coach for several reasons. In 2008, Calipari better known as Coach Cal, led his team including Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, to the Final Four. The game leading to that trip was vacated by the league and later investigated. Coach Cal left Memphis while the investigation was still pending, taking his talents to Kentucky where he has since then developed a very successful career. He is also suspected of taking some of Memphis’ recruits with him, including 6 foot 11 forward Skal Labissiere.
Rudd was flooded by tons of letters, emails, and phone calls from fans expressing their anger with his decision, by which he was “deeply troubled.” He issued a lengthy statement on Twitter apologizing for the “unnecessary upset, embarrassment, and genuine distressed” he caused the fans.
Rudd also wrote, “I recognize this will not end the debate and discussion, but it will put this chapter to rest for our university, fans, and community.”
Well, that escalated quickly, but he is right. It most certainly won’t be the end of this discussion, and we are here for every moment of it!