'Cats Coach Accused of Cheating by Former Friend
September 8, 2011
by Gil Espy, The College Basketball Enquirer
CORDOVA, TN – Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari was caught cheating at a game of Scrabble, this according to a former friend.
Merv Dingle, a used car dealer in the Memphis suburb of Cordova, contends that his friendship with the then-Tiger head coach ended three years ago thanks to the word "quilts."
"It was a pretty close game, but I was ahead," said Dingle. "I could see that he was starting to get a little nervous too because tiny beads of sweat were forming along his brow."
It was then, according to Dingle, that Calipari began behaving suspiciously.
"After he spelled the word 'stab,' he put his hand in the bag to retrieve a couple of new tiles." said Dingle. "What was odd, though, was that he kept his hand in the bag for a good 30 seconds, and he was moving his fingers around a lot, almost like he was feeling for a particular letter."
On his very next turn, according to Dingle, Calipari took the lead for good.
"Out of nowhere, after diddling his fingers around that bag for damn near a minute, he suddenly spells 'quilts!" said Dingle. "He got a triple letter score with the 'Q" too, so that pretty much but put the game out of reach.”
“I knew right then and there that he was a dirty, rotten cheat. It was obvious that he was fishing in that bag for the 'U."
Dingle, a prominent booster for the Memphis basketball program, denies that Calipari leaving the Memphis program in 2009 to accept the head coaching position at Kentucky played a role in his decision to out his one time friend.
"Scrabble is a game of ethics." said Dingle. "If you're capable of cheating at Scrabble, God only knows what you’re capable of. John leaving the Tiger program had nothing to do with me going public."
Calipari, who’s won 64 games in two seasons since taking over at Kentucky, was unavailable for comment.