After Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt on Feb. 2, Kentucky coach John Calipari avoided a handshake with Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse— and here’s why.
After Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 77-70 on Feb. 2, Kentucky coach John Calipari avoided shaking hands with Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse.
Kentucky Sports Radio journalist Drew Franklin likened it to “the Eric Walford goodbye”, but after the game, he shared why Calipari waved off Stackhouse.
Following the game, Calipari was asked if the physical element of the close match played a role in the coach refusing to shake his opponent’s hand.
“No, no, no—,” Calipari interjected. “What happened, I’m looking around the country and many coaches are just doing what they do in the NBA, which I did. I acknowledged him.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari on refusing to shake hands with Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse
What was initially interpreted as potential resentment was revealed to be nothing more than wary COVID-19 precautions. Although Calipari and his team has been shaking hands with opponents, including Vanderbilt. But ever since Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji tested positive for COVID after playing Kentucky, Calipari plans on being more cautious about close contact with other teams.
“I got worried after the last game,” said Calipari. “Did you see what happened to one of the Kansas players after the last game? What? What happened? The guy has COVID. He has COVID. Basically, he played with COVID. And now I’m saying, I’m not sure we should shake hands. Give us another two weeks.”
Calipari also noted that South Carolina and Mississippi State coaches also made socially-distanced gestures in their games on Feb. 1. “I saw those two coaches, great guys, both of them, they gave the peace sign and left,” said Calipari.
Screenshots confirm that Calipari did indeed wave to Stackhouse before turning and heading to the locker room. If teams can avoid spreading COVID by avoiding handshakes, it’s a simple gesture to make for the health of NCAA athletes.