The intra-athletic department sparring between John Calipari and Mark Stoops has another — and potentially its last — chapter.
After Calipari called Kentucky a “basketball school” in a public demand for a new facility, with Stoops — the football coach — jumping on Twitter to defend his program, Stoops spoke to reporters on Saturday for the first time since the incident.
“When you start talking about my program and others that we compete against — me, I don’t do that,” Stoops said. “I stay in my lane. So that’s in my defense of my players, in defense of the work that we’ve done. And believe me, we want to continue to push. But don’t demean or distract me from the hard work and the dedication and the commitment that people have done to get to this point. I don’t need to apologize for that and I won’t.”
Stoops added that he hasn’t spoken to Calipari since his initial comments to The Athletic, and that Kentucky’s football program “wasn’t born on third base.”Mark StoopsAP
“We understand history,” he said. “That’s great. I embrace it and love it, the history of our basketball. I’m proud of it. I love it. I didn’t have that history. We’re creating it.”
Since being hired in 2013, Stoops has built Kentucky’s program into a far more respectable SEC outfit than it had been prior. The Wildcats have won four straight bowl games and have two 10-win seasons under Stoops’ watch, including in 2021 when they went 10-3 and were ranked as high as No. 11 in the AP poll.
Calipari responded to Stoops’ comments on his own Twitter account, bringing the entire saga full circle.
“I was told about comments Mark Stoops made in his press conference,” Calipari tweeted.John CalipariAP
“I reached out to Mark Thursday & will try again. Comparing our athletic dept. to others was my bad. I have supported Mark & the football team through good and bad. I will continue to support them and cheer them on.
“Now I’ll do what I’ve done for 30 years: Coach my team and block out the clutter.”
This, however, is not the typical outside noise, but a problem within Calipari’s own house.
And that could make it particularly cumbersome to deal with.