LEXINGTON — If you are at least 35 years old and want to get an inside look at the University of Kentucky basketball program, you can do so for only $7,495.
At the new John Calipari Fantasy Basketball Experience, men will suit up, practice and play in games at Rupp Arena that might even be live streamed on the internet.
All of the money raised will go to the Calipari Family Foundation.
“I think this is going to be a terrific thing and you may ask, ‘Why are we doing it?’ It’s a wonderful way for us to, one, connect to a whole new realm of people, two, improve our program. The biggest point is that the money will all go to the (John Calipari) foundation. The foundation is the things that we’re doing from the financial literacy to the boys without fathers,” Calipari said. “The biggest thing that we’re going to be pushing is Catholic schools and, again, it’s not about being Catholic. It’s about education.”
Calipari said UK¿is one of the few places something like this could be done, and it could be part of something even bigger for UK basketball.
“It’s going to be in September, it’s not the summer. They’ll be during a time when our own players will be around, which is neat. I want to use it, on top of that, to start us having an alumni weekend every year that’s around this that we invite as many of the former players that we can to come back,” Calipari said.
“Maybe do banquets around it, maybe do a golf outing around it for them. Do anything we can that they want to come back with their wives, their families and they want to be back on this campus for a weekend. It’s a good time because it’s before they get started in their NBA seasons. In a couple of years we’re going to have about 10 percent of the NBA that played for us.”
Part of the proceeds could also go to benefit former UK¿players who want to come back and finish their degrees. Currently UK¿offers those players a scholarship to return to school paid for out of athletics funds. Calipari wants to be able to give returning players an additional cash stipend.
“But there will be some that’ll be older, have a family, and maybe need a stipend along with the scholarship to make it for those eight months, which we don’t do right now. So, there are some different things that we would like to do for former athletes that we’re able to do here,” Calipari said. “(Athletics director) Mitch (Barnhart) and I have talked about this opportunity also giving money to that.
“Again, you don’t know the end numbers right now but whatever we’re going to do, it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to bring people together, bring our former players in and serve that purpose and leverage all that to be able to say, ‘Okay, through this foundation we can now touch this, this, this and this.’”
Calipari says he will be actively involved — “I’m not going to coach a team because that’s not fair because we’ll win” — and that is goal is to make the event extra special.
“I just want everybody to walk away and say, ‘Only at Kentucky could somebody pull this off like this. Only at Kentucky could they do it to this level.’ And, have 80 guys, who maybe were not involved in our program all of the sudden say, ‘Wow. If this is what Kentucky is about, I want to be a part of this.’ It’s a great way to open up the door to people to be a part of this athletic department and all of the student athletes,” Calipari said.
He says there is a “core group” of about 30 men who go to these events that he hopes to tap into for the UK camp and participants will come “from all over the country.”
Calipari said his goal is to simply keep separating himself from the pack.
“We’ll sit down and just say, ‘How can we keep separating?’ There’s some things we’re thinking about doing, if I said them to you right now, some of you would be very angry,” he said. “Because we’re going to do some new things that are different and you’re going to look at and say, ‘When did they have the time to think this stuff up?’”