After announcing on Wednesday plans to honor John Calipari during the upcoming season, University of Memphis president Dr. M. David Rudd said on Thursday the school would not do so after all following significant backlash from Tigers fans.
Calipari coached Memphis from 2000 to 2009 before leaving for Kentucky. Circumstances of his departure from the school have long stung Tigers fans, who are upset Calipari left Memphis in the middle of an NCAA investigation and recruited previous Memphis targets to Kentucky.
With Calipari set to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, Rudd tweeted Wednesday evening that Memphis would welcome Calipari back to campus in December for “a great homecoming.” By Thursday night, Rudd changed the plans.
The backlash to Rudd’s initial decision to honor Calipari was immediately noticeable on social media, especially in the direct replies to Rudd’s tweet.
Rudd shared several of the angry responses he received on his Twitter account Wednesday night and into Thursday before directly acknowledging the backlash.
Appreciate the feedback. Has been civil and appropriate. Thank you. Read 'em all. Will continue to listen to our fan base in the coming days— Dr. M. David Rudd (@UofMemphisPres) September 10, 2015
Thank you for letting me know how you feel. Returning calls & continue to respond to emails. I'll read them all. Will offer more tomorrow.— Dr. M. David Rudd (@UofMemphisPres) September 10, 2015
Please know that I have read all of your notes and listened to all of our calls. I will provide a statement tomorrow, hopefully before noon— Dr. M. David Rudd (@UofMemphisPres) September 10, 2015
Calipari coached Memphis to a 252–69 record before leaving for Kentucky, where has coached the Wildcats to a 190–38 record, the 2012 NCAA tournament championship and four Final Four appearances.
Calipari also coached UMass and Memphis to the 1996 and 2008 Final Fours, respectively, although those results were later vacated by the NCAA. His record at UMass has since been adjusted to 189–70 and his record at Memphis stands at 214–68.
After Rudd first shared Memphis’s plans to honor him, Calipari responded on his own Twitter account.
I appreciate UMass and Memphis for deciding to honor what we were able to accomplish.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 10, 2015
UMass gave me my first opportunity and Memphis revived my career. I have a special place in my heart for both Amherst and Memphis.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 10, 2015
- Mike Fiammetta