The worlds of music and sport have long tended to collide, but it’s refreshing when the jocks stand up for the musos. What happened when the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball coach, John Calipari, turned up on The O’Reilly Factor last night on FOX News was more complex than that, but still impressive. Host Bill O’Reilly, perhaps having a bad month now that nemesis Stephen Colbert has been named the rightful heir to David Letterman’s late-night throne, told Calipari that things — what things, his pronouns leave unclear — have “coarsened.” O’Reilly asked whether “this rap stuff and hip hop stuff” has changed players’ attitudes.
Calipari, promoting new book Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out after his Wildcats made it to the NCAA championship (see College Basketball’s Sweet 16 Ranked by Best Local Music), admirably declined to take his host’s weird bait. O’Reilly also went on about “four-letter words” and “hustlers” who “give the kids drugs for free”; we’re not going to give him an extra platform by pulling out the quote, but he said something ugly involving rape, too. Calipari just took it all in stride, emphasizing that his players are respectful and are protected by the university despite whatever “stuff” might be blaring through their headphones.
It’s been a pretty bustling time for intersections between music and sports, really. Drake is hosting the 2014 ESPY Awards on July 16. ESPN analyst and former NBA coach George Karl recently outed himself as a huge Gucci Mane fan (speaking of “coarsened,” it’d be interesting to hear Gucci rap about a loofah). And then there’s the inconvenient fact that the previously mentioned Drake, who went big with Kentucky support, got clowned by the tournament-winning University of Connecticut. They made it.
Read Calipari’s O’Reilly transcript below (via Deadspin).
I mean, you are a good guy coach but — now, the coaching has coarsened, you teach at the University of Kentucky it’s coarsened. I don’t know if you listen to this rap stuff and hip hop stuff. Has that changed their attitude? I mean, how do you impose discipline on kids who are pretty much gonna do what they want to do.
>They trust — you have got to have trust first that they look at me and say is he about me. That’s what this book is about. They know that i’m about them and the decisions i make are in their interest, not my own, which is why I have a lot of kids leaving. I’m not influencing them to stay. I will tell them I want to keep copying you but i’m not going to hold you back. That’s a big part of this. Do they trust you enough? Do they look at you and say he is going to do right by my? If i tell a kid to starks you know the people around them are going to say he is just trying to win more games. I have got to let them make their decisions.
Do they act differently toward you? Do these use four letter words towards you.
None of that?
So you impose strict discipline on that.
>Yes. Here is what I would tell you. These kids come from good homes. People will say well he doesn’t have a father. Some of the best kids I coach were raised by a grandmother who was so firm that they understood.
So you evaluate their character before you give them the scholarships.
>If I walk in a home and a young man disrespects his mother or grandfather, grandmother in front of me, I’m out. Because if that’s the case, he respects no one. He is not going to respect me.
Okay. How do you keep them away from temptation with the hustlers everywhere?
So they go out with a girl and the girl said hey you raped me. There is drugs everywhere. They are giving the kids drugs for free. How do you keep them away from that?
>One of the things I tell them coming to kentucky as you know, if you want to smoke, drink, chase, do all that stuff, they will do a 30/30 on you. They will be on the ticker, every news show. You can’t do that here. You are coming here to be developed as a person and a player.
How many that?
>They all do.
Temptation is strong.
>We’ll deal with issues as they come up. They all look at the results. You and I know it’s one thing to walk in and say we’re going to do, this we’re going to do that it’s another thing to say here’s what we have done. Here is how they have been developed. We have had 17 players drafted. We have had 10 players get their college degrees. Our apr is as high as anybody in the country. Four years of a 30-0. They understand they are there to be educated. People will say well, they don’t want to go to school. That’s a bunch of crap. They do want to go to school. But their genius is basketball.
Now, do you have guys on them all the time? Curfews? Coaches watching them drug testing it do you drug test.
>We do all of that we have housing with no women that can go in there. 30 beds. People get honest about it. Why would you have separate them from the college? Because of what you said.
>They have to be. We also, I’m embarrassed to say take NBA security with us on the road. You would say, what? Well, where do you get to these guys? You are not getting to them on my campus. You are getting to them when we gone 00 road. We bring nba security with us to protect them. At the end of the day, how they were raised, what we looked at the when we recruited them, how we are now the standards that’s being set, they are going to be in situations where you are offered this, that, and the other. Do you take it or do you protect yourself to protect your brand? We used to call it our name. Now it’s your brand.