Kentucky coach John Calipari has announced that he has canceled a previously scheduled $1,000-a-person fundraiser at his home to benefit Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat up for re-election, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The paper reported that news of the Calipari cocktail reception drew criticism from its readers for the coach taking a political stance and that he also received a negative reaction in September for writing on his Facebook page that he intended to send a Kentucky jersey to President Obama.
It was via Facebook that Calipari gave this statement last night:
I hope by now you all realize that I don't take my position as your basketball coach lightly. I know how politically charged this state is and I recognize that the Big Blue Nation comes from both sides of the aisle. I appreciate every elected official who supports the University of Kentucky, regardless of party.
That said the Governor's event planned for August 11 -- along with other charitable functions scheduled for our home -- have been canceled after realizing the full plate of both professional and pressing, personal matters I will be tending to in the next couple of months. Ellen and I do hope this discussion will lead you to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming elections.
The Courier-Journal notes that while no Republican has yet to file to run against Beshear, among his potential challengers is former Kentucky player Richie Farmer.
Also, the school has a history of its basketball coaches getting involved in politics. Rick Pitino appeared on campus with Bill Clinton on the eve of the 1996 election, and Republican senator Jim Bunning later wrote an angry letter to Pitino saying he would no longer be a Kentucky fan.
Of course, Bunning ultimately couldn't stop following the Wildcats. In February, he complained of having to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina game in order to block an unemployment bill.