December 26, 2010

UK Notebook: Ex-Vanderbilt player gives orphans a home

adopting Two boys 'An amazing journey'

In plugging the idea of a new playground, Calipari made Rupp Arena sound like a dilapidated building begging for the wrecking ball.

Host Tom Leach played straight man by noting that Rupp Arena opened in the 1976-77 season.

"The building is 33 years old," said Calipari, adding that such an age made it due for overhaul or replacement.

"What really has been done to it in 33 years?" the UK coach said. "Did they paint it?"

Lexington gave Rupp Arena a $20 million face lift earlier this decade. Bill Owen, the CEO and president of Lexington Center Corp., said that from 2001 to 2004, the city installed video screens, completely renovated the UK locker room and expanded the upper concourse.

The city also built a press box at the bottom of the upper arena, thus clearing space for high-roller seating at courtside, and created the E-Rupp-tion Zone section for students. The improvements included almost doubling the number of concession stands and almost tripling the number of women's restrooms.

All that doesn't include a new court (the old center court is in the lobby adjoining the Hyatt) and, as Leach pointed out, making all the seats blue.

"To say it hasn't been renovated is just not accurate," Owen said.

That said, Owen and city leaders welcome the idea of a new downtown arena as a piece of an expansion of the Lexington Convention Center.

Soon enough, the historic building that saw many UK victories and Villanova beat Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game will be no more.

Kanter revisited

Let's take another stab at where we are in the Enes Kanter case.

Since the NCAA has not reversed itself on the ruling of permanent ineligibility, it can be presumed that UK's efforts to get Kanter on the court have failed. The NCAA has rejected UK's request for Kanter to be ruled eligible and denied UK's initial appeal of that ruling.

UK's "new information" re-started the process. Presumably, the new information pertains to an NCAA ruling permitting Auburn quarterback Cam Newton to continue playing despite his father admitting he tried to sell his son's services to Mississippi State.

There is one big distinction to draw: the NCAA said it had insufficient evidence to draw the conclusion that Newton knew of his father's actions or profited by them. In Kanter's case, the pro team in his native Turkey provided housing and banking records to show he received pay for play. Even UK agreed with the NCAA that Kanter received $33,033 in excess of the permitted compensation for necessary expenses in the third of his three seasons on the team.

As eagle-eye readers correctly noted, it's that $33,033 that led to Kanter being ruled ineligible, not simply because he played for a pro team three seasons.

Since UK cited new information several weeks ago, it can be presumed that the NCAA again rejected the school's request for a ruling of eligibility. So now we're again at the point of an appeal hearing, which because of the holidays won't be heard before January.

Mehmet Kanter telling The Sporting News that his son would play for UK next season if the NCAA reduced the penalty to ineligibility in 2010-11 made for an attention-getting story. But NCAA spokesman Chuck Wynne said that comments by the player's father would be no factor in the case.

UK Coach John Calipari complicated matters last week by throwing out the possibility of the Kanter family seeking a court injunction temporarily nullifying the ruling of ineligibility. The Derrick Rose case came to mind. Memphis played the star point guard, who was ruled ineligible because of academic reasons after the season. The NCAA ordered Memphis to vacate its 38 victories and return revenue gained by a deep run in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

If the NCAA won the court ruling upholding the permanent ineligibility, it would presumably order Kentucky to vacate any victory in which Kanter participated.

Salute to Joe B.

The best thing about the halftime salute to former coach Joe B. Hall last week was UK's minimal involvement. His former players arranged the tribute as a gesture of gratitude and warm-hearted sentiment.

Jerry Tipton

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