Credit: KET

The news that longtime Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari was leaving to become the coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks was a whirlwind affair, so it’s no surprise to find out that at least one reporter moved a little too fast in order to try and stay ahead of it.

The Calipari-to-Arkansas story had all the hallmarks of a college basketball shocker. The news came just weeks after he pleaded to keep his job on his own radio show. A local sports reporter was able to break the story. The coach was approached while walking a dog stroller for comment, which he declined, choosing to make it official in the most Boomer way possible a day later. And the entire thing only happened because of a chicken nugget impresario.

Along the way, a story broke that Calipari’s intention was actually to stay at Kentucky and he tried to use the Arkansas offer as leverage for a better contract. That report came from Kentucky basketball insider Dick Gabriel, who added that UK rebuked Coach Cal in his efforts.

“Calipari, going into that meeting with [athletics director] Mitch Barnhart, didn’t have much leverage,” Gabriel told KET, via On3. “Mitch had the leverage. But now, when you’ve got somebody else in your corner who is a viable candidate for your services. I mean, if it was a junior college that came to hire him, no, but this is Arkansas. Powerful school with deep, deep pockets and all kinds of booster money out there. Tyson chicken and Wal-Mart. They come in and say, we want you and we’ll do what it takes to get you. That’s leverage.

“Calipari, as I’m told, said, here’s what it’s going to take to keep me and UK said, I don’t think so. As I understand it, now if the deal isn’t done, it’s going to be done.”

However, that report was met with skepticism almost immediately, especially after Calipari’s attorney, Tom Mars, responded to a Kentucky Sports Radio post on X with a very different message.

“That’s odd. Dick’s reporting doesn’t seem to align with the text message I received as Coach Cal’s lawyer from KY Athletics at 1:22 pm ET,” Mars said.

Late Tuesday night, Gabriel offered a clarification and apology over the report.

“Clarification about a comment I made on KET: I should not have made it sound like there was a ‘counter offer’ situation,” wrote Gabriel. “I did a poor job of saying UK was aware of what Arkansas was offering, but to make it sound like Calipari sought a counter-offer was inaccurate. My apologies.”

The truth is that the initial report didn’t pass the smell test, so it’s not surprising to learn it wasn’t accurate as presented. Emotions run high in the world of college athletics, so there’s bound to be some misreporting and misinterpretations around a story this big, but ultimately it’s fair to demand accuracy over anything else. And it’s good of Gabriel to offer an apology and own it.

Just like Calipari, everyone can now move forward.


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to