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Sports in Kentucky

Kentucky notables in threes



University of Kentucky bids $200,000 for a high school basketball prospect?

That broought outrage and legal action threats from a lawyer representing University of Kentucky’s athletics department last week against the Chicago Sun-
then by the Anthony Davis family this week.

Let’s all take a deep breath and remember dog days make news cycle choices a little daff y. Let’s chill out with an Ale-8-One and think Governor’s Cup.

Still, the storm in a teapot in Chicago last week raised eyebrows though it began with a lame, “sources say …” as the reporter pitched his idea that father of high school hot-shot was shopping his son — 6-10 Anthony Davis Jr. — and Kentucky had bid 200 grand.

“Sources,” he wrote, “from three separate universities told the Sun-Times
that Davis Sr. asked for money in return for his son’s commitment, with the amounts ranging from $125,000 to $150,000.”

When he used ‘sources from three universities,’ credibility flew out the window faster than a Tiger Woods getaway. Except apparently in Lexington where a knee jerk reaction extended the news cycle.

Hey cub, universities don’t bid for ball players. Too smart. Boosters do, and assistant coaches do through back-channels leaving no fingerprints, assuring the boss deniability. We wonder where World Wide Wesley was during the elder Davis’s alleged shop-around?

Lawyer outrage aside, Wildcat fans at sundry Big Blue websites invariably plead, “Why pick on us?”

Answer is as unpleasant as the question: Because UK basketball has a rap sheet at NCAA headquarters longer than Dick Vitale answering a yes-or-no question on ‘Sportscenter’.

The upside of this ‘sources say’ allegation against UK? It’s a reminder UK officials and associate sugar daddies have much to protect — winningest men’s program, seven NCAA titles, memorabilia licensing, shoe company contracts, a cash cow flow that depends on how often Mitch Barnhart decides to milk.

And, of course preservation of Kentucky’s new image with prospects — One-And-Done U.

Barnhart Tax Hike

If Steve Beshear suggested a tax increase in today’s political climate, Kentucky’s governor would’ve been shredded into a barbecue sandwich at Fancy Farm last weekend.

If your county fiscal court ran up a trial balloon suggesting a rise in property tax in today’s economy, angry tractor-driving farmers would lay siege to the courthouse.

But, Mitch Barnhart, with the job security of Elena Kagan, pushed a tax hike on UK fans last week without so much as a peep or bicycle parade protest around Craft Center.

UK’s spin men pitched these numbers: 8,140 basketball fans, a third of Rupp Arena’s capacity, would be subject to a, uh, larger donation to the K Fund. Understand, this is no ticket guarantee. It guarantees privilege to pay more for opportunity to buy tickets. Bottom line? Send your check or step out of line. Others are waiting.

Meanwhile, Barnhart justified the increases by comparing UK to Florida, Tennessee and Georgia. We wonder how disposable income in those states compares to economic times in Kentucky?

So, while Kentuckians hear hard times come aknockin’ at the door, Barnhart had another surprise, all single-game basketball tickets will increased by $7.

UK needs the money for what, to curtail tuition increases, raises for faculty, fund research projects, right? Wrong. Additional monies go to improve ball yards in place and build new ones.

Essentially, Barnhart and his rubber stamp athletics board, are squeezing Wildcat loyalists of modest means out of Rupp Arena and Commonwealth Stadium.

Ironically, the director of athletics tooted his horn that the athletics department donates $1.7 million annually to the university.

Curious idea, donation, since UK Athletics touts its self sufficiency at $13.1 million a year and donates less than a 10th of its surplus to the institution with financial shortfalls falling on students, parents and taxpayers.

Readers (Right) Write

A column item on racial issues in sports brought a number of responses.

Typical was one from M. in eastern Kentucky. “I would like to thank you for putting into print what I’ve felt for a long, long time. I’m sick and tired of all the references made to people saying they are this or that kind of American. Your point of a person being African-American, Mexican-American, etc. is a disgrace to our country’s great legacy of being the melting pot for immigrants.

“I am also sick and tired of watching parades all over our country with people marching and waving the flags of their country of origin. If you’re an American, you’re an American — not Irish, Polish, Mexican, Puerto Rican or any other nationality. AMERICAN!! Enough is enough!!

Signed, (er……. British-American, eastern Kentucky hillbilly)

And so it goes.

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