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Sun-Times' recruiting story draws Kentucky's ire

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By Paul Skrbina

An attorney representing the University of Kentucky sent a letter Wednesday evening to the Sun-Times demanding retraction of a story by reporter Michael O'Brien from the paper's high school sports Web site.

See the full letter from Kentucky here

The story, which was posted Wednesday afternoon, later edited, then removed late Wednesday night, originally stated that Perspectives-Calumet basketball player Anthony Davis, who is reportedly choosing among scholarship offers from Kentucky, DePaul, Ohio State and Syracuse, was ready to announce his choice of Kentucky. O'Brien, citing "a reliable source," wrote that "rumors/sources that have Davis choosing Kentucky are also alleging that the commitment cost $200,000."

Here's a screen grab of the original story
If true, any such payment would be a grave violation of NCAA rules and put the Kentucky basketball program in a precarious position.

The dollar figure was then removed, with the story stating, "rumors that Davis' commitment is for sale have surfaced since he cut his list of schools down about a month ago."

The letter from a Lexington, Ky., firm, signed by attorney Stephen L. Barker, calls the letter a "formal demand that you (O'Brien and the Sun-Times) withdraw the publication from any source from which it has been published, and issue an immediate statement that you know of no credible evidence indicating that there is any truth to the 'rumors' referred to in your article." The letter from the law firm also threatens potential "punitive damages for your malicious and willful actions."

Anthony Davis' father, Anthony Davis Sr., declined to comment when reached Wednesday by the Tribune, though he denied the allegations to the Sun-Times last week.

"We haven't asked anyone for anything, and no one has offered us anything," Davis Sr. told the Sun-Times last Thursday.

Neither O'Brien nor Sun-Times sports editor Chris De Luca responded to e-mails seeking comment late Wednesday night.

22 Comments

Cal has never even been accused or investigated for recruiting violations. The UMass violation was for Camby taking money from an agent (which Calipari reported to the NCAA,) and Memphis was for Rose cheating on the ACT before he ever arrived on campus. Get your facts straight.

On the other hand, UK's last basketball violation was in the late 80's. Lot's of other big programs have had more recent violations. Why is there not more scrutiny on them? Kansas has more basketball violations in their past than UK, does anyone ever call them a dirty program?

It looks to me like everyone out there is trying to light their own fires around UK and run away screaming "where there is smoke...."

So everyone on here that wants O'Brien canned, are you sure he isnt right? Is Davis the first kid from the CPS that has ever been accused of unethical things and bad recruiting - I THINK NOT!

O'Brien is a respected and reputable journalist. He has been covering HS basketball for years and knows more about the inner workings of the sport than any of the spineless that have posted here asking for him to resign.

While he did retract the questionable information, that does not mean he is incorrect.

And how long do any of you really think it will be before that piece of garbage Calipari takes the Kentucky program down like he did at Memphis and Massachusetts.

So do you remember the final four appearance by UMass? Neither do I because the NCAA pulled it for recruiting violations.

How bout Memphis.....Yah that one is vanishing soon too.

And didnt Kentucky almost get the death penalthy a decade ago?

Wow a story about a rapidly crooked program like Kentucky about a kid from the CPS - a CPS that is rampantly out of control in terms of education, recruiting and violence.

He without sin, cast the first stone.

Coach Cal on August 5, 2010 4:57 PM

Of course I paid the kid, been doing it for years. I don't see why anybody is surprised, and now that I am at Kentucky they can't touch me!

If O'Brien sources had proof, he wouldn't have to re_write his story. He would stand by his sources.

If O'Brien sources were reliable (assuming he had any sources), the 200K exchanging hands wouldn't be buried deep in his article.... it would be the headline and 1st paragraph.

If those sources were reliable and had any proof, they would be taking their story to major media sources, you know, like ESPN.

Proof it. Until then it's all lies.

Jody Porter on August 5, 2010 4:23 PM

Steve...please list the numerous violations you mention. I know of two: 1) Marcus Camby accepting money from an agent, resulting in UMASS being stripped of their Final Four (Calipari's fault? Hardly...), and 2) Derrick Rose apparently cheating on the SAT, and being allowed to play BECAUSE the NCAA's own clearing house told Calipari that he was eligible.

People love to "infer" things on Cal. I find that humorous. And further proof that "perception is reality".

Chris Carrier on August 5, 2010 3:45 PM

A central justification in the story for the need to pay $200k was something like "why else would a top recruit from an urban area want to go play in a place like Lexington?"

Apparently, the author is certain any school is cheating if they attract a recruit from the big city. Other than UCLA, which of the historical top programs is from a big urban area? UK? Kansas? Duke? UNC? Indiana?

Does the author even follow college basketball? He should be fired so he can start a blog and say whatever he wants.

Thomas A. Rohr on August 5, 2010 2:38 PM

Unfortunately, this tarnishes all college recruiting by inference; but then, what can you expect from someone who is hired to win at any cost? At least that is my take on it.

Alan Shuback on August 5, 2010 12:23 PM

UK shuts the lid on a can of worms. But will the worm turn?

Calipari's last two college jobs resulted in numerous violations. All of a sudden he has turned a new leaf and is recruiting the ethical way? Comon' people, don't be so naive. Newspaper reporters have sources for a reason. Obviously the information they have received from said source has been valid more than once. I'm guessing most reporters wouldn't go public with a story like this if they didn't feel comfortable with the information they received. I know in our country it's supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but we are dealing with the Teflon Don of college basketball here. Sorry, but I back O'Brien.

Sure, a one-and-done player who will be making millions after 1 year of college will be openly asking for 200K.
Even with most of the top players wanting to play for Kentucky, Kentucky is still openly paying 200K to recruits... Makes perfect sense. It's so logical.

Everybody wants to go to North Carolina and if the recruits cut North Carolina from their list, the recruits have to be on the take.

Are you Serious?

Hmmm....First Memphis then to Kentucky? and I bet USC is innocent too.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

all of this coming from people in Chicago..the mob town..
the town of corrupt politicians, with accusations, and lies.
people that do not know or care about integrity, morals,
or valves. imagine that......oh, your past mayor, governor,
ties to an election...not accusations, just corrupt business
as usual...some Chicago people are real people...but you guys
on here, are all jerks....

Mark.....of course they're going to come out and denounce the story, they have to 'cuddle' up to UK, regardless if it's true or not....

Philboyd Studge on August 5, 2010 9:47 AM

Suppose I wrote a story saying Michael O'Brien was a registered sex offender with a long history of abusing children, and that the SunTimes failed to uncover that fact because it was a negligent, bankrupt organization. How do I know? "Unnamed sources and rumors."

Would that be any worse than accusing a 19-year-old kid and his family of corruption, along with a state university, with no basis in fact?

BigDoggie on August 5, 2010 8:59 AM

While on one hand I realize this is irresponsible journalism - quoting vague unnamed "sources" to print a pretty inflammitory accusation that, if true, would be big trouble for UK, on the other hand I have that 90% "gut feeling" certainty that UK is dirty as hell and that the NCAA is too gutless to investigate them unless something rogue like this article is able to get the ball rolling. They are already on or possibly starting to teeter over the brink of making a mockery of the recruiting process by purchasing several of the top 5 recruits in the country each and every year. As we saw last year, this does not necessarily mean they can win it all. If you can't get the job done with 5 first-round NBA picks, when can you?? However, I still feel that they are tarnishing the game and the concept of "amateur" sports. Which coach leads the world in vacated Final Fours again??

While I have no doubt that college recruiting is one of the slimiest, dirtiest, most unethical practices around . . . last I checked we lived in a country where you need to provide actual proof of your claims, rather than just spouting hearsay. Unless you can prove a transaction took place and cash was exchanged - actually prove it, not divine it from the ether based on some crack-pot "intuition" or "feeling" you have - then it's disgustingly irresponsible and libelous to include allegations like that in your story.

Its pretty common knowledge that the kid wanted to go to Carolina, but when ole man Davis tried to shake them down for cash and a job they told him to get lost, so they all knew Cal would do whatever it takes to get them kid there. We all know that UK will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER file a lawsuit against the Suntimes, they know its not in their best interest to have even more people poking around their basketball program.

Its too bad, UK used to be a top tier program, now they are nothing but Memphis in different clothes, waiting for the NCAA to come down hard on them.

Bigglesworth on August 5, 2010 7:33 AM

Truth hurts, don't it UK? Bunch of cheaters...you'll get yours someday. If you lie down with dogs you are bound to wake up with fleas...

I know the Davis' on August 5, 2010 7:03 AM

Every one denouncing this story has no clue man. The Davis' did accept the cash and they were after the cash the entire time. Why do you think Roy boy from UNC stopped messin with Mr. Davis? I know for a fact they accepted the money, daddy Davis bragged to too many people. This one is real yo.

He probably got his information from Pat Forde.

Mark Liptak on August 5, 2010 2:07 AM

So this is what passes for "responsible" journalism today eh?

Every reputable national basketball writer including Seth Davis, Mike DeCourcey, Jeff Goodman and others have already come out and denounced the story, O'Brien and the Sun-Times.

Mark Liptak

jimmy jam on August 5, 2010 1:34 AM

Story's probably true anyway. Coach Cal is a weasel.

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