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What Does UK owe this man?


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The topic de jour in the Bluegrass today is to what extent UK has screwed one of its own by cancelling the game next season in Boston against UMASS. The game, which was scheduled for the end of November, would have been a huge revenue boost for the UMASS program and estimates are that if it had occurred, it would have generated somewhere close to $250,000 for the UMASS athletic budget. UK cancelled the game and paid the “out” clause on the contract (around $50,000), claiming that it wanted to have another home game instead of a road game against the Minutemen. Immediately the UMASS officials and Andy Katz (who of course is a beacon of moral clarity) cried foul and the state entered into a debate. Does UK owe Travis Ford the game in Boston, or was this business decision something that should not be taken personally by the former spunky guard?

As an initial matter, I have seen much discussion about this issue that simply gets one fact incorrect. Kentucky DID NOT break its contract with UMASS….in fact it satisfied its contract completely….an out clause with a payment from the University was included and Kentucky paid the payment. Thus folks who say that Kentucky didnt “live up to their word” are simply incorrect. Like most contracts, there was a provision for how it could be ignored….UK abided by those provisions, end of story. And from a business standpoint, there is no doubt that the decision can be understood. UK gets nothing by playing UMASS in Boston…..the Minutemen arent high profile enough to be a marquee game, there is no advantage to beating them but a huge loss to losing to them and this gives the opportunity for another home game. From a strictly business standpoint, the game never made any sense to begin with, and thus ending it is completely rational.

But there is another standpoint to consider…..mainly how the University treats a former player. This game was set up during the Tubby era for one reason…..to help a former player in getting his new program off the ground. Tubby had affinity for Travis Ford and this game gave Travis the opportunity to get a marquee game close to home. Tubby is now gone and according to Mitch Barnhart, thus ends the discussion on the issue. Many people have complained that this isnt the way to treat a former player……that Travis has earned the respect from the University to allow the road game to occur, regardless of the business interest. Heck, if UK wants to get out of a road game, cancel the game at Houston.

While I understand this view and even subscribe to it a little bit, ultimately it ignores the realities of big time basketball. Kentucky operates a multi-million dollar basketball program that the fans want…..no DEMAND to be excellent. Nicities such as helping former players are sweet and make the heart feel warm, but what is most important is building the program. And from that perspective, playing the UMASS game is simply not something UK needs to do. Playing at Houston allows recruiting in the fertile Texas player farm and ultimately, that reality trumps helping Travis’ new program.

Kentucky honored its business and contractual obligations in ending the deal with UMASS. However it went about its decision in a way that leaves some Kentucky fans (including me) a little queasy. Travis Ford gave a lot to the program and it is a shame that this business decision will have a negative effect on his new program. However, under Billy Clyde the rules have changed. It is a new era in Kentucky basketball and the old ways of doing business have been altered for a new focus on producing a top-notch product on the floor. In so doing, there are going to be some feelings hurt and some toes stepped on. We love Travis, but playing at UMASS was not in Kentucky’s best interests….and from now, on for good and for bad, those interests will be priority #1.

Article written by Matt Jones

78 responses to “What Does UK owe this man?”

  1. BlueWildCat

    got it

  2. 69'Z

    The answer to the question is nada.

  3. Todd Hester

    anybody need any insurance?

  4. UKCatnNC

    It seems that the whole world is against Kentucky. Had this action been taken by any other school it would not have been news worthy. We all care about Travis Ford; however, with the coaching change and the desire to “right” our program, this is a good move. I hope that we will be able to give Travis another shot in the future.

  5. Bigbluenation

    What is up with all the Loserville talk on today’s show!
    Worst show ever, but other than that keep up the good work!

  6. Tom

    Andy Katz sucks.

  7. RyanInLondon

    if im ever face 2 face with katz ill knock him out. jail or whatever, i will do it

  8. Dan

    You can take it many different ways. One way is that he was given a scholarship to play at an elite program and did well to make a name for himself to get him where he is today. I really don’t believe in supporting other programs even if former Wildcats are there but that’s just me. Now when his career is all said and done and he wishes to come back home then sure lets give our appreciation to the guy. If he’s good at what he does than he won’t need UK’s help. He’ll build that program back up and they won’t have to worry about revenue. Ultimately it’s a business and it just didn’t benefit UK. Good luck to Travis though!

  9. Jon

    I say go ahead and play the game. Kentucky historically played all around the country. Boston is not a place that they usually get to, but it’s not like it’s in the middle of nowhere.

    It wouldn’t hurt with recruits and UK fans in the Northeast to make an appearance once every 50 years. The last (and only) time Kentucky played in Boston, they faced Holy Cross in 1948. The result was not only a win over Bob Cousy and gang, but Lou Tsioropoulos was at the game, became intrigued by the Wildcats and ended up coming to Kentucky a few years later.

    Jon

  10. duder

    if we are bad ass we can beat anybody anywhere. so who cares

  11. gobigblue73

    Lets talk about contracts and buyouts shall we? None of us should worry
    about what we owe Travis Ford(I loved him when he was here by the way).
    Consider this, as soon as he gets a good offer from a bigger program,
    guess what? he will be there. This is a business and you cannot make business
    decisions based on loyalties to former players. This is the same logic that had
    people on here saying that pelphrey should not recruit Sanchez because
    his former team wanted him! ridiculous!
    The only negative that comes out of this is if we schedule a lesser team after
    dropping UMASS, then it would lokk like we are scared. My pick: we should schedule
    Texas A&M to replace it, would be a great game and would definitely be a
    better game for schedule strength and a shout out to billy’s former team.

  12. BobbyBlue

    The bigger question should be–what does Travis Ford owe Ky ?
    As I see it
    just about everything he has.

  13. bcgobsession

    I appreciated Matt’s viewpoints– I think most of us are torn between the 2 choices (to play in Boston & show our love for Travis or to not play & break a contract). While I understand the controversy surrounding the decision, I think its best to do whatever is BEST for UK. We are the ones that matter in this equation.

  14. MrSleecat

    11 – You are right. In fact, that is exactly what Travis did. If I remember correctly, while coaching at EKU, he still had time left on his contract. It ultimately had to be bought out for him to go to UMASS. (Thinking back still further, I believe there was controversy as to who would pay the buy-out; Travis or UMASS.) While on the subject, I hate to bring them up, but UL did the same thing with Western KY about 4 years ago. I only mention them because on the Sports Mob today, Matt referenced the fact that Pitino went to the O’Connell center to help Billy Donovan. I guess what I’m really saying is this happens all the time. Why it made the news on ESPN during sports breaks is beyond me…

  15. EROCK

    why don’t we play minnesota at the HHH dome in Minneapolis in front of like 80,000. We could split the revenue with Tubby and Saul

  16. tubbyrulz

    apparently the people that live in massachuettes [i did not know how to spell it] obviously don’t care becuase only 5 people of that great state have voted on the ESPN pole.

  17. tubbyrulz

    so why should we care

  18. Scott

    Good business decision. As much as I like the program to help former players, UK has to look out for UK first.

  19. CalCat

    Finally, the post I was looking for. It IS a business decision, nothing more, nothing less. Although I was a huge fan of Travis Ford in his playing days, I am a bigger fan of UK, of which he is no longer a part. If our coaching staff believes the game is not necessary, then dammit, the game is not necessary! It may leave people with a somewhat uneasy feeling, but hey, no one will be permanently damaged by this. And since when did UMASS become our problem, anyway? We’re not responsible for them, nor do we owe them anything.

    Gillispie and Barnhart have my complete trust to do what is best for our program. I think Smith was “nice”, and “classy”, to our program’s detriment. Well, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Time to take the bull by the balls, and start instilling fear in our opponents hearts. If that means that Gillispie has to do things his own way, then let it be done.

    As Mel Gibson screamed in Braveheart…FREEDOM!!!!! (Sorry, I had to do it)

  20. skirck2

    As a die-hard Cats fan in CT, I am unbelievably bummed. I had just gathered a group of 15 guys to go to the game and make a day of it in Boston. I had planned to buy tickets this week. I was also going to take my 7-year old son who I have reared to live and die with the Cats (you gotta love the DirecTV college hoops package). He loved Patrick Sparks. Jodie Meeks is now his favorite. Luckily I did not tell him so he won’t be disappointed. Having said that, UK did nothing illegal, maybe immoral, but they know the bottom line is wins and recruiting and whatever helps them get back to the Final Four I am in favor of. Go Big Blue!

  21. flipisatrip

    What an absolute joke of a poll!!!? ESPN going to post a poll everytime a team changes its schedule?

  22. CalCat

    Anyone notice? We’re newsworthy again. The media are hating on us, just like they did when we were a dominant force not too long ago. Our every move is scrutinized, and ESPN, as much as they hate us, cannot resist writing about us.

    There’s no such thing as bad press. I like it…A LOT!

    GO BIG BLUE!

  23. Zidane

    thanks matt

  24. Chris

    Its unfortunate that Ford got pooped on, but that’s how business can be sometimes. Maybe we can make it up to him sometime in the future.

  25. wacat

    The AP story on SI online says the UMASS AD was assured verbally UK would not back out. UMASS came to UK with the expectation of a return engagement. Now they are in a bind: ticket refunds; loss of projected revenue; scrambling for a new opponent; arena to cancel.

    To me, there is a difference between fulfilling a business obligation and honorable behavior. We might have fulfilled the letter of the contract but we sure dishonored its spirit. And for what? For expediency. We want one more home game! Probably against Upper Lower Middle Vermont.

    Sure, we has the legal right to do this. Of course it doesn’t impact us except positively. It’s no big deal – only winning is important, right?

    I thought scheduling was a matter between schools. Didn’t Mitch sign the agreement as UK AD? Didn’t he make a promise, with both sides assuming the buyout was just an emergency clause? The “emergency” was our convenience and willingness to not care about its impact on the contracting patner. The “emergency” was Tubby leaving and our new coach not wanting to play this game?

    OK, this is not a mountain, but rather an molehill. But it is a foul-smelling molehill in my opinion.

  26. SLAYtheBEAST

    TECHNICALLY the contract was honored, but it is a lousy way to do business. especially w/a former CAT involved. Sale your soul to the devil as long as the darn basketball team wins, it is a COMPLETE JOKE!

    If Billy Clyde is the master recruiter everyone is labeling him as then a trip to UMASS over Houston wouldn’t have mattered in this instance b/c of his so-called abilities.

    Maybe the new way of doing business is the wrong way. How long before people start bitching about the toes getting stepped on?

  27. TubbyCAT

    This is just a terrible way to do business, bottom line. BCG didn’t want to play this game so Mitchy-Poo said that this was done while Tubby was here and he is no longer here, so why play the game. We pay them a $50,000.00 buyout, where is the other $200,000.00 they possibly could have made w/this game?

    I just don’t like the precedent being set here and there is a funny smell coming from Lexington way!

  28. TulsaCat

    26, agreed. They honored the contract language but not the intent. Too bad to see the bad press on the Cats.

    That said, will ESPN still be upset if UK rescheduled with a team of higher calibre and viewwership???

  29. Alpha Brumage

    #19

    Exactly. I love that post.

  30. Alpha Brumage

    #27

    Tubby Sux. I’m sure they are being “classy” up in Minnesota. Enjoy the ice and snow.

  31. CardHack

    For the record with re: to the Western KY/UofL brouhaha of four years ago…while Louisville bought out the game in Bowling Green that was a remnant of a payback game from Denny’s tenure, Louisville did in fact play Western in Nashville the next season.

  32. tarheelforlife

    kentucky=scared of travis ford.Not only is kentucky full of rednecks there all so cowards.Should be yellow and white.

  33. Alpha Brumage

    #32

    Be careful. I have a copy of the check that Roy gave to Wright to come to UNC.

    And UNC has done the exact same thing in the past.

  34. BCG Fan, Mitch not so much

    26, 27, 28 quit crying. BCG *IS* a master recruiter, but how many of these kids will get to see the Cats in person IN RUPP!!! how many top prospects are in Boston? Having one more opportunity to get recruits in Lexington will help. Oh yeah, there is also a big revenue draw for a home game which not only helps the bball program but other UK sports too.

    but for Barnhart to try to shift this on Tubby shows at best lack of class and at worse lack of spine to take the heat for a controversial but not necessarily wrong decision.

  35. TulsaCat

    better than “powder” blue, 32. such a masculine color scheme. I see where you get your moral high ground.

  36. BCG rox

    Whassamatter Tarheel — not enough news on your slackers so you have to slum on a “redneck” message board? Pathetic. Looking forward to handing your @ss to you next fall.

  37. Chuck Alexinis

    You know…playing former players who become coaches routine was really started by Pitino and he did so because he knew we would beat their asses badly, but that team would take home a nice check for taking the ass beating. Well, times have changed, and we do need to do what is best for the program. Take Travis Ford away from the situation and there would be no serious mention to the buy out. Just like when a new boss arrives, rules and desires change. With the type of team we have, we really need to maximize our home games as our team will have say 10 or so Freshman and Sophomores and already a killer schedule. The buy outs, as crappy as they are, are there for a reason. Again, things are changing at UK. We do things our way and we really do need to stop thinking about the other guys feelings and do what is best for us…period…good or bad. I hate it for Travis, but this was something that probably needed to be done.

    ESPN are a bunch of turds…but I will tell you this…..we will be on ESPN a bunch of times next year as we are one of the highest, if not highest, rated team in the country…..ESPN needs us…..so what if we wear the black hat.

  38. Chuck Alexinis

    By highest rated, I mean most watched.

  39. Chuck Alexinis

    Finally, the Andy Katz (who is a biased ass) article was not really anything negative…no problems with the article. The truth is the truth. Tubby left, new coach in town, changes made….pissed off people who will get over it…we move on.

  40. unknown

    Billy G sure is a classy one, huh?

  41. Dan V.

    Boston isn’t “the middle of nowhere” #9 but you sure as hell can see and smell it from there.
    The armpit of the original thirteen.

  42. TheRevelation

    #37– I kinda like the black hat thing, we could be the outlaws.

  43. JKW1974

    Come on, we owe Travis nothing. We gain nothing from a game in Boston, and a lot by going to Houston. We will also gain if we book the Illinois series that I am hearing about.

  44. fuzzy zeller

    40. Billy G. wasn’t hired to build the UMASS program. Plain and simple.
    His job is to restore Kentucky, not UMASS. If UMASS and Ford don’t like
    it they need to be more careful with the out clauses in their contracts.
    The only people I feel bad for in this situation are the UK fans from the
    Boston area who planned on attending the game. College basketball is a
    business and this is a business decision.

  45. yes but

    One way to ensure BCG doesn’t have a ten loss season, keep pathetic Houston on the calendar and drop a team that just might beat UK.

  46. KY001

    Why would the UNITED STATES sports world care whether or not Kentucky plays UMASS regardless of reason (referring to the ESPN article by Katz)? That is the most bizarre poll I’ve ever seen! I guess it could be viewed as KENTUCKY IS BACK!! WE HAVEN’T EVEN PLAYED A GAME YET WITH OUR NEW COACH AND THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON US QUITE A BIT LATELY, NEGATIVE OR NOT!! See, our enemies won’t admit it, but they are definitely keeping their eye on us. They know they aren’t going to like eating their words. As for Ford, since he was a WILDCAT, I’m sure he wants to see us ALWAYS succeed and I’m sure he totally understands the reasoning behind this (given that he, too, is a coach trying to raise a program). I’m sure he’ll still love us and not take it personally.

  47. wacat

    #46 – Ford will understand & still love us? Sounds like you have been smoking too much weed.

  48. bcgobsession

    46) I agree– Travis Ford will always be a Wildcat at heart. Eventually he’ll get over the sting of this, but he’ll be ok. I doubt his team wants to get thier asses stomped by a higher calibur school anyway.

    I have to say that I’m impressed with Barnhart’s committment to the program. He’s giving BCG anything his heart desires. It will build a strong relationship between them, so that BCG knows he has the admin’s support whenever he needs it. I think that will keep BCG around for a long time. I think that Barnhart realizes what a great coach we’ve got & will do what it takes to keep him happy, thus BBN happy too! Long live the CATS!

  49. Bo Lanter

    We shouldn’t play in Boston. Last time we did (December 16, 1948) a Holy Cross fan punched Wah Wah Jones at the end of the game. Rupp tried to break it up and fans were trying to hit him. To quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

  50. 10, 2, and 4

    We’ve been too nice for too long. This action shows we won’t let anybody stand in the way of making hard choices along the path to winning (within the rules). Gillispie has shown he can make great strides with a new team and should make decisions as he sees fit.

    With all due respect to Ford as a former Cat, he’s hasn’t carried himself, IMO, in a way to deserve much respect from UK and doesn’t/shouldn’t need our help anyway. If he does, he’s in the wrong business. If the shoe were on the other foot, Ford would do the same thing – if he thought it was best – because it’s business…..After the ball is tipped, then it’s a game.

  51. JB

    Tubbycat, you are a moron…you are still bitter that your beloved Tubby wasn’t good enough to stay here, and that Billy C is showing him up before baseball season even ends. This is a business decision, and if Ford was not the coach, then no one would bat an eye about this decision. We honored the contract, we paid the required buyout. It may not have been the route that UMass liked, but it was honored, and if they didn’t like it, then the buyout provision should not have been in the contract in the first place. I like supporting former Cats, but I am also loyal to our program first…the changing of the guard has occurred, and we are here to return UK basketball to the pinnacle of college sports, not do the old Tubby thing and be loyal to a fault. Get over it.

  52. Buehler

    #45, Tubby would have had to drop 3 games to avoid ten-losses. Can we drop Vandy and Florida too?

  53. Dave B

    F the DUMB stuff!!!!! Let’s play ‘em!!!!

  54. B, King

    How many times has the state of Massachusetts or the city of Boston tried to big league UK??????????

    F*ck being nice…We need more of this in KY.

  55. Crow

    Buehler, Tubby did drop Vandy and Florida…. he moved to the Big 10.

  56. Alpha Brumage

    The Tubby fans are out in full force. I knew it would only be a matter of time before they showed their true colors.

  57. Crow

    I like how Tubby is a class guy for giving UK 0 days notice and hopping on a plane to Minnesota after secretly negotiating with them for months yet Kentucky is somehow classless for excercising a mutually agreed upon buyout clause in a contract with a lose-lose school that will do nothing for our SOS or regional recruiting.

  58. Ran

    UK owes him nothing. Didn’t break contract. Period.

  59. Cat Merrill

    It seems to me that Tubby, when he left UK abruptly for a fresh, fat contract and less pressure, he also left behind the intangible commitments he had made to many people. The players thought he was coming back, right? I am a Tubby fan. I thought he was coming back. (Almost all of us UK fans did, whether we liked him or not). And when he left, I was surprised and upset. But he did what was right for him. And he should have. But this sort of thing is the inevitable cost of that sort of thing. I’m sure there were many people counting on him for many different reasons as this next season’s UK basketball coach. Maybe he had speaking engagements? I’m just speculating, but when you quit a position like that, a lot of people feel the effects. You let a lot of people down. He wasn’t thinking about the players, the program, or Travis Ford when he quit. And that’s OK. They’re all going to be alright. But it’s going to sting some people a little bit.

  60. billy harrison

    Any celebrity will tell you that it doesn’t matter what people say about you as long as they are talking about you. They say that if you’re not out there they for get about you. Coke and Pepsi are popular but they keep advertising because if they quit people would quit buying them.

  61. catmancando

    UK owes Travis Ford absolutely NOTHING. He received a full ride scholarship after his transfers.
    He received a free education, free meals, and free housing all for playing basketball.
    I think Travis received everything he deserved. Sorry about the game.
    Let’s move on.

  62. UKatFanatic

    And where did Travis start his college basketball career?

  63. Beatle Bum

    Most contracts do not have such clauses. It may be true that most basketball contracts between a traditional power and a wannabe have such clauses. I suspect that is what you meant.

    Certainly, UMass does not lose $250,000. They get the $50,000, plus they get to schedule another home game that should generate revenue. They will not recoup the whole anticipated payoff that UK would bring, but they will make more than they would have had UK never gotten involved.

  64. rub my belly

    Travis is a PUNK . . .

  65. Pelphrey92

    #62, I believe that would be Missouri. I’m only 24, but think I’m right. Good Point.

  66. Clandestine

    Contract was fulfilled. End of story. Quit whining people.

  67. Bleedingblu

    We owe nothing. It is a shame that the buyout of a game is such a big problem. It seems that the ever loving sports media loves us more now than ever. Yeah right. I can’t wait for #8 to shut them up.

  68. Bigblufan

    #34

    Tubby picked up a 1.5 million dollar check when he walked out the door for anohter job paying him 1.8 million a year for 5 or 7 yrs (Which IMO he won’t last the full term ). So if Mitch wants to put this on Tubby then he has 1.5 million reasons to do so- F—– Tubs- IMO this was a typical Tubby deal that did NOT benefit UK.

  69. Rich

    I think the point many are missing is that the decision could have future ramifications. Teams like UMass have no special desire to come to Lexington to get their hats handed to them. I don’t need to explain home and home to anyone here, but the concern would be that the next time UK goes shopping for patsies to play at home, they may have a tougher time, or at least it is going to cost them much more than 50k, finding opponents. Maybe, maybe not, but even if UK made a good business decision, which it undoubtedly was, this type of action is not the way you curry good will in the basketball community. Again, I presume the response of most UK fans would be “F everyone else, We are UK” but some may say that is shortsighted.

  70. Bearcat24

    UK owes the little bastard absolutely nothing. Travis Ford may be loved by those UK fans that love anyone that ever suited up for the Cats, but if you know him or have ever even been around him in person, you know he is a complete prick and thinks he is God’s gift to the world.

    One quick story on Ford. I played against him when he coached Campbellsville and I dove over his bench to save a ball that was going out of bounds and as I ran back onto the court Ford grabbed the back of my jersey with 2 hands and hung on for dear life in an attempt to keep me from getting back on the court. Who would do that? I think the only coach in America that could pull that off and not get bashed is Coach K…if Coach K did it the media (Dukie V) would have given him the benefit of the doubt and claimed that he was merely trying to catch me to pat me on the back for my great hussle. Prick.

  71. D.Ho

    Well, MB always said he wanted UK to act with class and dignity. We scheduled a home and home with UMass. They came and did their part, we did not. Yes, we “honored” the contract by paying the money. We brought no honor, class or dignity to UK with this move.
    Bottom line, you can talk about grad rates, class, dignity, honor but at the end of the day it comes down to wins and losses. UK thought they could lose this game and wanted another home game to ease the transition in the coaching change. You do what is best for the bottom line. I don’t like it but that’s the way it is.

  72. 1kyfan

    #69. Don’t forget the nice paycheck that UMASS has already picked up for the Dec 06 game is Rupp. I think they’ve already make out very well….

  73. 1kyfan

    Grow up #71. Big time programs do this all the time without loss of “honor, class & dignity”. And there will be lots of schools begging to come play in Rupp to get the big paycheck because in the end…it is a

  74. 1kyfan

    …it is a business!

  75. George W Spicer

    This was a good business decision but a lousy PR decision.
    Mitch has a way of offending people, and a way of making UK
    look bad. He is the wrong man for the job of AD at UK.

    Andy Katz is nothing more than a mouthpiece for “dook” Vitale,
    and shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone.

  76. Brady

    It was only ok if Tubby will bring Minesota to play the home game.

  77. Swattt

    Tsioropoulos? HUH?

  78. Anonymous

    I already see what will happen… a first round NCAA match-up between UK and UMass.