SEC Basketball:

Calipari gives officials a Bahamas vacation

By: Jeremy Muck
Published: Monday, August 6, 2018
Kentucky head coach John Calipari talks to reporters during news conference at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 16, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. Kentucky faces Buffalo in a second-round game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Kentucky head coach John Calipari talks to reporters during news conference at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 16, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. Kentucky faces Buffalo in a second-round game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

How does Kentucky men's basketball Coach John Calipari thank the officials?

By giving three of them a trip to the Bahamas.

The three officials -- brothers John and Brett Hampton, and Bart Lenox -- will travel to the Bahamas this week to work four of Kentucky's games.

Kentucky calls on the referees, who live near Lexington, to work scrimmages, practices, the Blue-White Game and preseason exhibitions.

"It's really nice of UK to do this for us," John Hampton told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "Cal really likes to have real referees when they scrimmage instead of an assistant coach or a manager. He likes it to be game-like. He likes for the young guys to get a feel for what is going to be a foul at the SEC level."

However, the Herald-Leader's Jerry Tipton wondered what opposing SEC coaches thought of the arrangement.

"Since the SEC does not permit the three to work UK's regular-season games, there's no direct conflict of interest such as I'm-not-calling-a-foul-against-my-Bahamas-benefactor," Tipton wrote.

"But here's a hypothetical: Say, Alabama and Kentucky are prime contenders to win the SEC regular-season championship. And the three officiate a late-season Alabama loss to, say, LSU that makes Kentucky the champion.

"Would that scenario be problematic?

"Yes," former Auburn coach Sonny Smith said. "It would. Yes. Without a doubt."

"John Clougherty, a longtime SEC referee and later supervisor of officials for the Atlantic Coast Conference, agreed.

"That's a bad situation because if Alabama loses and finds out this guy had a paid vacation to the Bahamas, it's going to raise eyebrows," he said.

"Clougherty volunteered an alternative hypothetical. 'If Kentucky lost and there was an official from Alabama that traveled with Alabama to the Bahamas,' he said. 'Knowing Cal, he'd have his suspicions.' "

"Referees are so used to second-guessing, that questions about conflict of interest produce a shrug. 'That's a day at the beach,' Rutledge said.

"For UK's trip to the Bahamas, make that seven days at the beach."

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