UK-UConn: The unlikeable semifinal

Since Kentucky beat North Carolina to clinch a trip to Houston, there have been lots of jokes going around about John Calipari making his first Final Four. You might remember Calipari taking Massachusetts and Memphis that far in the Tournament, but according to the NCAA, those Final Four appearances were actually made by “Vacated.”

Calipari’s previous teams got caught for various … ahem … improprieties after he left for better jobs. In both cases, he managed to keep his own hands clean, but it’s kind of hard not to be suspicious of the guy.

All of which brings us to this story reported today by FoxSports.com:

[F]orgotten in Calipari’s quick turnaround of Kentucky is a native of this bustling metroplex who was instrumental in the Wildcats’ resurrection: Bilal Batley.

Batley abruptly resigned as assistant director of basketball operations/manager after he violated NCAA rules by rebounding for a player during a workout in July 2009. Kentucky self-reported the secondary violation and sent Batley a letter of admonishment.

Batley’s job did not allow him to have on-court interaction with players. When he resigned, a team spokesman said he did so to return home because of an illness in his family.

But a nearly two-year FOXSports.com investigation revealed that Batley also broke NCAA rules by making repeated impermissible telephone calls while at both Memphis and Kentucky to recruits, such as DeMarcus Cousins, and their parents.

When approached by a FOXSports.com reporter after his news conference on Friday, Calipari refused to address any questions concerning whether he was aware of Batley’s calls and whether or not Kentucky self-reported the violations.

NCAA rules state that all telephone calls made to or received from a recruit, his parents, legal guardians or coaches must be made and received by a team’s head coach or three countable assistant coaches.

The only thing surprising about this is that it didn’t come out two years from now after Calipari has suckered some NBA team into giving him another pro job.

And in case you didn’t already feel dirty about watching tonight’s Kentucky-Connecticut game, The New York Times reported this about UConn yesterday:

Connecticut and its longtime coach, Jim Calhoun, have already been punished for a variety of sins in their recruitment of [Nate] Miles. The N.C.A.A. has limited the number of scholarships Connecticut can award, has placed its basketball program on probation and suspended Calhoun for three games next season.

But the N.C.A.A., which issued its punishments in February and declared its investigation over, never interviewed Miles, who refused to take part in the investigation. He now says he is ready to tell the full story of his journey from cherished prospect to Connecticut recruit to leading man in a significant university scandal to homeless young father.

“I’d probably be open to talk to them, and, you know, get some things straight,” Miles said.

The N.C.A.A. is taking Miles seriously; a representative of the organization went to his grandmother’s house on Friday.

It’s hard to imagine anyone outside of Kentucky’s or UConn’s own fans cheering for the winner of this game against the Butler-VCU winner. Apparently, Calipari and Calhoun don’t even like each other, going all the way back to Calipari’s recruitment of Marcus Camby in 1993.

Any guess about who the NCAA might want to win on Monday night?

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