Did Rick Pitino help John Calipari get his first head coaching job?

Seth Davis discusses the question: “Did Pitino help Calipari get UMass job?”

Published on Mar 27, 2012 by

CBS Sports Network college basketball analyst Seth Davis joined the Tim Brando Show to break down the matchup between Kentucky’s John Calipari and Louisville’s Rick Pitino as they prepare to face off this Saturday in New Orleans.

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This has been discussed many times. Here is portion of an article that discusses the circumstances:

As UK approaches one of the most monumental sporting events the commonwealth has ever seen, the universty will also see a coaching matchup that is rich with history.

And, depending on who is spoken to, one that is mired in controversy.

The relationship between UK head coach John Calipari and University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino dates back to 1988, when Pitino reportedly played a key role in helping Calipari obtain the head coaching job at the University of Massachusetts.

Pitino claims to have written a $5,000 check to cover a portion of Calipari’s first-year salary, according to a March 26 Rivals.com article.

At the time, Pitino even referred to Calipari as one of his “three or four really good friends in coaching,” according to a 2011 Sports Illustrated article.

But, as far as fans know, that’s where the pleasantries stopped.

As each coached returned from unsuccessful stints in the NBA in the early 2000s, they found themselves competing at least twice a year in Conference USA: Pitino at U of L and Calipari at the University of Memphis.

That’s where the rivalry began.

Memphis and U of L battled for conference championships for four seasons before Pitino’s squad made the jump to the Big East in 2005.

The Wall Street Journal reported on  March 28th:

Along the way the two coaches have sideswiped each other enough to leave dents and paint. Pitino, 59, has said that he helped Calipari, 53, get hired at Massachusetts, his first head-coaching job. Calipari doesn’t remember it that way. Last fall Calipari contrasted the state of Kentucky with others by saying the Wildcats had no in-state competition. Pitino retorted: “I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid.”

I have tried to get to the bottom of this and can’t. It seems to me if Pitino wrote a check for $5000 then he probably did help Calipari get the job. I would to hear any input someone else may have.

[COACHATE0329jp] Getty Images (Calipari)John Calipari, left, and Rick Pitino (Reuters)

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