LEXINGTON— Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari is known for his ability to recruit and coach, but also has a reputation for creativity.
When Calipari approached WKYT 27 general manager Wayne Martin about the possibility of a telethon to benefit victims of an earthquake in Haiti more than two years ago, Martin knew he had little time to prepare, but embraced the idea.
The telethon raised $1.2 million for victims of the quake, bringing a smile to Calipari and Martin.
“The ‘Hoops for Haiti,’ has to be one of the single, most isolated memorable moments (I’ve had at the station), because Cal called a week in advance and was like, ‘How about we do a telethon?’” Martin recalled. “For our people to be able to do that and put all the pieces in place in one week and to generate the kind of money that generated, was a pretty special happening.”
Calipari also had Martin and his staff televise a practice session during a week-long break.
“That was his initiative and we did it,” Martin said. “Cal has got a new idea every day it seems like with something he wants to do. He’s one step ahead of most. If you were hiring a marketing guru, he would be at the top of the list. He would find someway to make (an idea) great. He’s been a tremendous person to work with professionally and personally. I really enjoy that relationship.”
Martin has a similar relationship with Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell.
“They are just cooperative, they’re transparent and what you see is what they are,” he said. “They’ve had success and that’s fun, too.”
Martin also had a close relationship with former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith and has retained the friendship since Smith has been at the University of Minnesota.
“I consider Tubby Smith one of my really good friends,” he said. “I have the upmost respect for him. That relationship is special to me and every year he’s been (at Minnesota) I have gone up there for a game.”
Martin added that he didn’t know Calipari before his arrival at Kentucky and had “no clue what a great fit he would become.”
“It’s like (the UK) job and him are made for each other,” Martin said. “He enjoys and embraces the attention.”
The pair had another telethon to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy earlier this week, which aired on WKYT and the CWKYT.
Between the telethon and and online auction, Calipari and the Wildcats raised almost $1 million to help in relief efforts for residents of New York and New Jersey affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Calipari credited his almost 400,000 "very close friends" on Facebook for making the telethon such a success.
Contact Keith Taylor at email@example.com.