The brainchild of John Calipari, Hoops for Haiti was a smashing success, raising more than $1 million in aid for the earthquake victims of Haiti.
Coach Cal presented the idea to WKYT General Manager Wayne Martin on Friday, and without hesitation, the station embarked on a 48-hour scramble to get the event on the air. Station manager Mike Kanarek and his crew relied upon their telethon experience and turned organized chaos into a thing of beauty.
With Cal firmly in control, the telethon hummed along for nearly five hours, with phone lines jammed all day, while contributions poured in. Cal used his considerable influence to get other coaches to call in, including Tubby Smith, Tom Izzo, Marvin Lewis and Jim Boeheim. All contributed money to the cause.
Wildcat players helped man the phone bank -- how cool was it to call in a donation, then get to speak with John Wall or Patrick Patterson?
Joe Craft, for whom UK's plush practice facility is named, wowed those in the studio with a mammoth $100,000 donation.
Former Cat Nazr Mohammed pushed the total over the $500,000 mark, when he promised $10,000 just as the Red Cross was finishing up with phone calls. With matching local funds, Cal and Co. managed to hit the seven figure mark, just as he promised.
"I've been saying for months that Big Blue Nation is full of 'crazies.' But after Sunday's outpouring of support, I can call everyone something else: Compassionate and generous," Calipari said.
"I am amazed at the kindness shown to support our effort, Hoops for Haiti. In less than six hours, we raised over $500,000 through phone calls and website pledges. It was beyond my wildest dreams.
"There are so many people to thank, but chiefly I have to acknowledge Wayne Martin at WKYT, Royce Pulliam who started the ball rolling, my team for giving their time on an off day to answer phones and make a difference and all the volunteers who made the event go smoothly.
"I know we won a game on Saturday afternoon, but when I left the studio early Sunday evening, it felt like we'd all just won a championship. It's amazing how good you can feel when you are helping others.
During the day, more than 2,200 sites streamed the event live. WKYT.com, already one of the most active web sites in the country, tallied 270,000 page views. "Hoops for Haiti" was one of the most-searched phrases on the Internet -- Google, at one point, listed it as the third most popular search on Sunday.
ESPN carried part of the telethon live and later Calipari did a live interview with the sports leader. Many of the nation's newspapers and web sites have reported on UK's involvement with Hoops for Haiti.
It's another shining example of Calipari's charm -- love him or hate, the guy makes headlines. He promised a big fund raising effort, then delivered.
You can't knock him for that.
Cal is Sportsman of the Year
Congrats to John Calipari on being named Kentucky's Sportsman of the Year.
The award is given annually to the state's top sports figure, and despite being on the job only since April, Calipari easily outdistanced former Louisville basketball All-American Angel McCaughtry for the award.
Calipari was tops on my ballot. Following Cal, I voted for Rich Brooks, John Wall, Rachel Alexandra and Calvin Borel.
Kenny Perry was last year's winner.
Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.