Sports in Kentucky by Bob Watkins

Posted April 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear? Take a bow this week, Kentucky High School Athletics Association hierarchy.

Sort of.

The University of Kentucky issued its 2012-13 basketball schedule last August. In blue ink – final regular season home game, (Senior Day) at Rupp Arena, Saturday, March 9, midday, Florida on CBS.

Apparently not in the loop for the CBS-Sports memo: KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett. The Boys’ State Basketball Tournament schedulers had set the semi-final doubleheader at Rupp Saturday, March 9, with the title game set for the evening.


In a stroke of classic Carpe Diem, KHSAA officials managed to re-set the semi-final twin bill for Saturday evening and moved the title game to Sunday.

Seize the day indeed. UK beat Florida Saturday afternoon, the high school semi-final games were played in the evening. 20,172 fans paid to watch and the KHSAA folks were onto something.

On Sunday Madison Central and Louisville Ballard played for the championship. 17,351 paid. Largest crowd for a title game since 2009. KH$AA was definitely onto something.

Here was a coup so $weet for Sweet 16 officials, commish Tackett had to be giddy. By mid-April the KHSAA Board of Control had given the U.S. Congress a lesson in moving legislation with dispatch. No more State Tournament semi-finals on Saturday morning and no title game in the evening.

Beginning March 2014, the boys’ and girls’ semi-finals will be played on Saturday with title games next day. So pleased with the windfall, Tackett spoke up and quickly went from the sublime to ridiculous.

“We examined the format of our basketball tournaments from a number of different perspectives,” he said in a statement, “and in the end, felt like it was time to move the championship game to Sunday. Separating the championship game from the semifinals really makes an event out of the Saturday games for those final four teams.”

Yes it does. So, I wondered (tongue-in-cheek), why a parade of commissioners and boards of control dating to Carr Creek, Brewers and the Cuba Cubs, failed to recognize this change until a schedule conflict in 2013?

Tackett should have stopped there, but didn’t. “… the added rest leading up to the championship game will not only benefit the health and safety of the students, it will also have an impact on the quality of play, and provide coaches a chance to better prepare their teams for the most important game of the year.”

Almost a century until someone recognized the physical and emotional drain on kids playing the two biggest games of their lives within an eight hour time span?

That strike you as a Eureka Moment? How about Duh?

Based on history here, we know what brought change and it isn’t, “health and safety of kids.”

This is about money and a little arithmetic – 20,172 +17,351 x price-of-a-ticket = … you figure it.

As April winds down, KHSAA officials may still be counting Sweet 16 Sunday loot. Lexington businesses enjoyed the extra day windfall too when fans stayed over an extra night, patronized restaurants and malls.

An idea to extend one of our state’s most popular events an extra day is good economic sense. But a KHSAA commissioner trying to sell the change for any other reason than profit is disingenuous.

More important is the moral aspect ignored. In an era of ever more godlessness and love of money, the KHSAA Board of Control members ought have to explain to Kentuckians, by way of the State Board of Education, their unilateral encroachment onto what most Americans (here in the Bible Belt) consider a sacred day for quietude, contemplation and worship.

All for the health and well-being of the kids, of course.


Pencil in (no ink) Happy Osborne, at Kentucky Wesleyan. On paper, looks to be a good fit.

Curious though, how/why Osborne became a relative nomad, leaving success at Georgetown College in 2011 for Tennessee Tech, then Montgomery High School, and now back to a level where he began, Panthers basketball.

Osborne’s resume’ is lofty and might impress some, but not so much at Wesleyan where winning is part of the woodwork and is more an expectation than at Georgetown.

Osborne’s Tiger teams served up seven Final Four appearances, twice advanced to a championship game and won a national title in 1998.

New chapter at Wesleyan and a capable man to write the next one.


“We have come to believe, in college basketball, nobody is more important than the coach. We have built a Mt. Rushmore of Dean, Coach K, Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim, Bill Self, John Calipari, Rick Pitino, on and on and on while relegating players to props they expertly move around on dry-erase boards. This, too, is a lie. – Jen Floyd Engel, FOX

And so it goes.