Calipari fills role as UK ambassador

Kernel Editorial

As hard as it may be to comprehend in a state where basketball rests on a pedestal, John Calipari’s “Hoops for Haiti” fundraiser helped remind the Kentucky fanbase that there is more going on in the world than the Cats’ undefeated season.

When Billy Gillispie was fired, UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart stressed the ultimate reason for his dismissal was his inability to embrace his role as an ambassador for the university. Ever since Calipari’s State-of-the-Union-like speech at Big Blue Madness, not many people questioned whether or not Calipari was willing to accept that responsibility.

Despite the dark cloud of criticism following Calipari’s tactics in the realm of basketball, he has made it clear that he is well aware of ways to use his position to benefit the community and, in this case, the world. “Hoops for Haiti” was organized in less than three days, yet it raised more than $1.1 million and was the third most searched item on Google the day it aired.

The event brought together some of the biggest names in the state, such as Joe Craft, who donated a staggering $100,000. However, Calipari showed his power extends outside the Commonwealth, as some of the biggest names in sports participated in the fundraiser, including Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boehiem and ESPN announcer Dick Vitale.

The creativity of the event is part of what made it so successful. Items put up for bid on eBay showed the range of Calipari’s networking skills, while T-shirt sales that benefit the cause were equally successful.

Calipari went so far as to offer up his home to host a dinner for six with fan favorite Ashley Judd and her personal chef, which sold for more than $98,000.

Strides like these are not only what sets Calipari apart from the two-year disaster that was Billy Gillispie, but are also necessary to put the university in the limelight for more than just basketball.