January 17, 2013

Embarrassed UMass Alum

Camby @ UMass in 1996  

As most of my readers already know, I was a student at UMass-Amherst from Fall 2005 through Spring 2009. I love the athletic department and attended many games from the major sports when I was there. Mostly I enjoyed hockey games and basketball games at the Mullins Center, when I wasn't working as an Event Staff employee.  Currently I support all Umass teams, in fact I know a couple people now working in these programs and wish nothing but success for them (Vogel.)

Anyway this Saturday night UMass is honoring former player basketball star Marcus Camby by retiring his number before the game vs George Washington. They are going to raise his #21 to the rafters alongside Dr J, Trigger Burke, Lou Roe, and Al Skinner. Camby played on the team from 1994-96. 

In 1996, Camby's senior year,  Umass lost to Kentucky in the Final 4. Camby was a monster that year... like, the best player in the country. He was named National Player of the Year and ended being the #2 overall pick in the NBA draft. My Umass professors used to talk to our classes about how in 1996 we were #1 in the country and the entire campus was basketball-crazy 24/7. It's all anyone talked about all year. It was a magical time at Umass and easily the most success the program has ever had. 

However, all of this was done illegally. Camby was accepting gifts from multiple agents, who were essentially bribing him for the right to represent him once he left Umass and was ready to go pro. This, of course, is highly illegal and strictly forbidden in the NCAA. When a NCAA athlete accepts gifts it removes their "amateur" status and they are no longer eligible to play. 

Camby accepted cash (somewhere around $60,000), cars, stereos  and other expensive gifts from a few different agents, all hoping to sign him once he left school. He would meet with these guys in and around the Amherst area, and straight up ask for cash. There is one guy who actually faced prostitution charges because he had one of his female tenants sleep with Camby in exchange for lowering her monthly rent. Camby, of course, led these guys on, leading them to believe he would sign with them once his college career was over. Turns out Camby ended up completely screwing over both guys (they deserved it) by choosing to go with a high-profile agency that had never illegally contacted him. 

Camby was well aware what he was doing was illegal and against the rules, but did it anyway. The coach at the time, John Calipari, recently released a statement on Camby's number being retired and was of his main points was "what a great teammate" he was. I guess Calipari, who is a complete scumbag himself,  must have forgotten that Camby's selfish actions caused the NCAA to vacate the tournament wins and all of his personal stats. Actually, I wanted to look some of those stats up from the 1996 tourny, and in my Sports Almanac it literally doesn't even say "Umass" under the 3rd place team. It simply says "Vacated." 

Camby and Calipari 

Calipari himself, I'm sure, was fully aware of what was going on with his star  during that season, and I have no doubt he chose to turn the other way while it was happening. After the mess he left at Umass, Calipari escaped to the NBA, and failed miserably. He sucked. After 3 seasons with the Nets that produced 0 playoff wins, Calipari tucked his tail between his legs and returned to the college ranks to coach Memphis. He had immediate success, and in 2007 set a NCAA record for wins in a season. However, all of those wins were again vacated due to the fact that Derrick Rose, the best player, was academically ineligible and Calipari covered it up. As soon as the recruiting sanctions came down, Calipari ditched the program and left for Kentucky so he didn't have to deal with it. I think you get the picture about this guy: he a cheating, lying piece of shit scumbag who has no regard for the game and the NCAA. When the going gets tough- he gets going. Bob Knight, who coached 40+ years with no violations, doesn't think Calipari should be coaching anymore and neither do I. 

Anyway, back to Camby. There is just no way in hell he should be honored at Umass with a jersey retirement ceremony. Did he bring a lot of attention to the program  in the mid 90s? Yes he did. Did he lead the school's team further than it had ever been before ? Yes* he did. Is he the most talented and best player ever to don a Umass uniform? You can definitely make a good case for it. Did he have a very sucessful NBA career? Sure. 

Supporters of Camby will argue that regardless of the scandal, he brought UMass basketball to new heights and changed the program for the better. To that, I laugh hysterically: 

Umass has been to the dance 8 times total. Below are all the results: 

1962First Round
1992Sweet Sixteen
1993Second Round
1994Second Round
1995Elite Eight
1996Final Four*
1997First Round
1998First Round

Someone please tell me how Camby helped the Umass program? Am I missing something?  In an article published in 1997 Umass officials admitted that the Camby scandal had a negative effect on recruitment and the school was forced to return the $151,000 it received for it's final 4 appearance. What good did Camby bring to the Umass program? Seriously, I want answers in the comment section.

Listen, do I hate Marcus Camby? Not really. I think he was a young, impressionable guy who made a ton of mistakes and since has learned from them. I've always kinda resented him (and Calipari) because I truly believe his actions at Umass negatively effected my personal experience there (aka the basketball program never recovered and sucked when I was there as a student.) But I don't hate him. I blame the scum agents and the head coach more, but the idea of retiring Camby's jersey is just wrong. And it's a complete joke that the Athletic Dept itself is celebrating and honoring the very person who caused the demise of it's basketball program. Honestly, I am embarrassed to be a UMass alum this weekend. 


  1. I apologize in advance. I am terrible at being articulate on paper.

    Did Marcus Camby break rules? Yes. While I won’t get into the ridiculousness of NCAA rules, he did break the rules that were in place. But let’s look at this seriously for a second. Did accepting cash, gifts and a prostitute alter the play on the court and was any of that part of his choosing to attend UMASS? No. Ultimately, Camby did nothing to “cheat”, as so many people want to label him. And that is what I most care about. If Camby cheated, then I’d be with you 100%. But he did not cheat. What he did on the court and for UMASS doesn’t change. People remember those games. People remember UMASS beating #1 Kentucky. People remember Camby dominating a guy named Tim Duncan. People remember UMASS being 26-0 at one point. People remember the team being #1 the majority of the year. People remember UMASS being the #1 overall team in the tournament. And people remember watching what should have been the national championship game, the eventual loss to Kentucky. And the Final Four banner still hangs.

    The national attention that all of this brought to UMASS has led to a better school in many facets. Our top Sports Management program is just that partly because of the success of the team (and Camby). The national spotlight on the school caused prospective students that would have never considered UMASS to come here. As Calipari mentioned in his article yesterday, the attention helped push UMASS to create the honor college and increase the schools standards. And if you walk around places in the country and you are wearing a UMASS shirt or mention that you went there, the responses you are most likely to get are “they were really great at basketball in the early to mid 90s” and “that’s where Marcus Camby went, right? He’s still in the NBA, right?”, and you’ll hear that 2nd one more than you’ll hear “isn’t that where Dr. J went?” Unless your name is The Boston Globe, most people outside of Amherst don’t look down on the program and school because of this incident. This is just a small part of what positive Camby did for UMASS.

    Ultimately, it had taken far too long for UMASS to finally retire his number. UMASS did its best to forget what a great basketball power UMASS was, and that, my friend, is what has really hurt UMASS Basketball (and the department as a whole) since 1996.

    Also, you call John Calipari scum. Why? Because Camby broke rules. Calipari didn’t break the rules. The person who has taken the MOST heat over time from Camby screwing up is Calipari. He didn’t know what was going on. He wasn’t able to be with Camby 24/7. Coach Calipari had 35 wins taken away because of a 21 year old. He should be bitter. He should hate Camby. Calipari’s reputation is tarnished forever because of Camby. But he isn’t bitter. He doesn’t hate him. He adores Marcus, and that was evident with the glowing article he put out yesterday. And that, in and of itself, should be more than enough reason to realize that this is long overdue for UMASS to do.


  2. Odds and ends:

    UMASS lost $0 dollars from this incident (Camby paid back every dollar the NCAA took back) and the school did not lose any sponsorships from it. I wonder, though, how much money do you think the NCAA made off of UMASS Camby 21 jerseys that year? Do you think the NCAA returned that money to the consumers because Marcus “cheated”?

    Did recruiting take an initial blow? Probably. I'm not surprised that the athletic department made that statement (I'm sure they were still smarting from having to write the $151k check when they said it too...). Anytime the word "scandal" hangs over a program, recruiting will be hurt. But recruiting was more hurt by the hiring of a 1st time head coach who was not ready to fill in the shoes of Calipari. Had the school decided to actually spend some money and bring someone in, UMASS would have been in a much better spot (especially considering they returned the best back court in the nation from the Final Four team). There are also plenty of schools that have been hit by worse scandals and have recovered (Kentucky, Memphis, Baylor, UCONN, Ohio State, Michigan and even BC to name a few)... No sanctions were levied. No scholarships taken away. Camby taking some coin and sleeping with a prostitute is the reason UMASS has fallen down in the basketball world??? Laughable.

    Calipari didn't "escape" because of the scandal. Calipari was making in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for a salary. The Nets offered him MILLIONS of dollars per year for a salary at the height of his coaching ability. Had this scandal not happened, he would have been gone anyways.

    Go try and talk to Donta Bright, Dana Dingle, Carmelo Travieso and Edgar Padilla and ask them how they feel about Marcus Camby. See if they feel as slighted by him as you are. I know for a fact that they aren't. But give it a shot and see what you find.

    Your $60k CASH figure is inaccurate. $28k in cash and other gifts that maybe total up to $60k is what is generally known.

    I’m not going to go into the Memphis scandal you bring up other than this: Do you know what the NCAA Clearing House is? If so, that should answer any question about whether or not Calipari did anything wrong there.

    And one more thing: how many games to you go to in Amherst each year now that you are not a student? 1? Maybe 2? While I’m not trying to attack you personally, I’d say that our apathetic alumni have done more harm to our basketball and athletic programs than Camby could have ever dreamt of doing. If HALF of the alumni in the greater Boston area made it to Amherst for 1 basketball game a year, we’d sell out every game. One trip to and from UMASS. Instead of fighting against the University of Massachusetts for honoring one of its top 2 greatest players ever, you should put your efforts into trying to make the school better.

    Just my two cents.


  3. Clueless. Get some facts, come back and talk to me. You suck at writing, too.

  4. I forgot one thing, JB, in regards to what positive he does for UMASS.

    Every time Marcus Camby plays in an NBA game, it is either announced or shown that he went to Massachusetts, or UMASS. It is hard to get attention like that.


  5. yikes, a little research would do a writer good. if you followed the program you would know that it was more than just the fallout from camby's time at UMASS that altered the trajectory of the team.

    you come off as a bitter person who doesn't truly understand the situation (and clearly doesn't care to do the research) but sees an opportunity to bash the state university, it's basketball program, and two of it's most important all-time members from afar.

    by the time you ask the reader if you hate Marcus Camby, the answer is obvious.

    While I understand everyone is entitled to an opinion, I am relieved that you are in the vast minority with this one. Luckily for the rest of us, after this weekend you will go back to being the do-nothing alum you probably were before this article.

  6. Young man, you are completely wrong in your emotional assessment of Cal. You obviously do not know him or his history to any significant degree. If you are basing your opinion on what you have a read then you are a fool just like some one would be a fool by accepting your notion that 'Cal is scum.'
    As for Camby, he was an emtremely young and immature kid when he took from the 'agents' and to not take that into account is not fair. Kids make mistakes and he admitted that he did with remorse. You need to know the people involved and the history and not resort to revisionist history based on hearsay.

  7. 1st- Thank you all for your comments . Even though it seems I’ve drawn the ire of most of you, I still appreciate/respect your opinions

    2nd- Yes I know I am a horrible writer. My biggest fear is that my lack of writing skills holds me back from making my points as clearly as possible. I don’t have time to write A+ quality shit on here, I throw down some thoughts, re-arrange them, run spell check and publish. If this was my day job, it would be a different story.

  8. BLong: I agreed with a lot of what you said, here is what I disagree with that stuck out the most:

    -You said that since Camby never cheated on the court, that you are willing to overlook his actions off the court. If he was a pro, I would tend to agree with this concept. For example, I think whatever Tiger Woods does in his personal time (as disgusting as he may be) is irrelevant to him as a golfer. I don’t think he should be banned or barred from any Golf honors or “hall of fame” type stuff. In Camby’s case however, I cannot ignore his off the court shortcomings because from 93-96 he was representing the University, his team, etc. Student Athletes know they represent the team at all times, it is a point that is driven into everyone of their heads. They are amateurs. Student-athletes representing the name on the front of the jersey as well as the name on the back. He may have been a good teammate on the court, but there is no question he was selfish and a horrible teammate off the court. Hell, he was probably the MOST influential person at UMass back then, he should have gone the extra mile to behave off-court simply because he had so many people counting on him and watching him.

    -I don’t buy the argument that Camby helped increase tuition and raised the level of awareness to the Sport Mgt program. Enrollment numbers were growing in the 90s anyway, regardless of the success of the basketball team, and any perspective student who is making the choice to go to UMass because of a basketball player is someone who I would rather not be at UMass anyway. Anyway, even if he did have a positive effect on the enrollment numbers, file it under the “any publicity is good publicity” tab for me.

    -You mentioned the most popular response someone may get wearing a UMass basketball jersey would have something to do with Camby. That might be true, but I would guess an equally popular response would be “Oh I didn’t know UMass even had a basketball team anymore.” I’m not saying this to offend any passionate UMass bball fans, but it’s the truth.
    - I think it’s pretty naïve to say Calipari had no idea that Camby was involved in the off-court stuff he was. I read somewhere that Calipari even warned Camby about the sort of stuff he got involved in, prior to becoming a super star. If somehow, Calipari didn’t know, he failed as a coach/mentor for his student-athlete, especially knowing what Camby was probably going to face off the court. Calipari didn’t want to intervene because he wanted to win basketball games. He probably knew/assumed he was getting a job offer from the NBA, so just like he has done at other schools he sacrificed the long term outlook of the program for his own short term personal gain. In some way, I am sure he turned his back on the Camby scandal even though he knew something was probably going on, because he was unwilling to deal with the consequences (both on and off the court.)

    - The $ issue. Yes, I know Camby returned the money that UMass had to return (151K) after he signed his huge NBA contract- so what? So what he did is ok now? Just paying the $ back is enough for you? I’m sure he gave a lot more money to UMass too, over time, but I just don’t condone the idea that it’s ok to buy your way back into administration’s good graces. Also, you said something about the amount of money the school was making off his jersey sales… My general feeling about this argument is that college athletes may not get a salary but they certainly are compensated, in the form of tuition. Plain and simple Umass afford Camby the chance at an education because of his talent. That is certainly enough in my book.

    - I don’t know why you say the 60K number is inaccurate. Got it from the 5 page SI article on the Camby Scndal from 1997 in the SI vault.

  9. To the Anonymous commentators who started with “You come off as a bitter person…” and thinks I am using this as an opportunity to bash administration as well as calling me a “do-nothing alum” –

    I am not bitter at all. I have nothing against UMass basketball. I also love UMass in general;
    in fact I was a proud Student Admissions Rep when I was an undergrad. I don’t attend games, I’ll watch on TV if nothing else is on, and I’ll check the score the next day probably 60% of the time. I wouldn’t classify myself as a big UMass basketball fan. Maybe that’s why I am in the minority o this issue, you all are very emotionally tied to Umass basketball, clinging onto the only relevant player the program has seen in 20 years. Also I’d love for you to expand on how I am a “do-nothing” alum haha

    -My #1 overall point that I want to get across is that I really just think it’s inappropriate to retire the guys number. I don’t care if they have a Marcus Camby night or anything like that, but to retire someone’s number is a sacred, emotional thing. Camby did way too much wrong to deserve this, IMO.

    To the apparently older reader (#targetdemo) who left the anonymous comment- “Completely” wrong in my assessment of Calipari? I’m not claiming to know all the details of all the scandals he has been involved in, but I do know that there are plenty of qualified people out there who believe he is scum, including Bobby Knight, Bill Simmons, John Chaney, and Rick Pitino. How about you find me some publications that defend Calipari’s actions? Is that possible? There's literally thousands of articles out there describing in great detail how much of a sleazy, immoral POS he is.

    And as for Camby, I know he was young. I get that it was in the past. He still should be held accountable for his actions. UMass is now sending the message “Hey it’s cool if you embarrass, misrepresent, and sabotage the University while you’re here, as long as you make us whole (financially) and go on to the NBA we will forgive and honor you.” And that is why I am embarrassed as an alum from UMass right now.

  10. I don’t overlook his actions off the court, nor do I think they should be forgotten. They happened, and won’t be forgotten any different than him dominating Duncan. Ray Lewis murdered someone. You cool with him being in the Ravens HOF or the NFL HOF and having his # retired in Baltimore? Cause that’s what is going to happen. By your statement about Tiger, you’re ok with that. But because Marcus Camby took some money, gifts and prostitutes he should be held to a higher standard? He was a 21 year old who made a mistake that hurt zero people.

    If you can’t see how the rise of the basketball program (which Camby was part of) didn’t help with increasing admissions standards, the Sports Management program, and enrollment, I’m not sure we should be having this discussion.

    I’ve never experienced someone saying to me “oh, I didn’t know UMASS even had a basketball team anymore”. Does it happen? Sure. But that’s because we have been down for many years, not because of anything Camby did. They REMEMBER UMASS Basketball because of what Camby did.

    It isn’t naïve to say that about Calipari. Do some research on it. If you read that he warned Camby about what could happen, that’s even more than I knew he did. That is a good thing. Camby went beyond the scope of what Calipari could police. Seriously, did you want Cal to follow Camby to the Hampshire Mall every day or sit in his dorm room and monitor his incoming and outgoing calls 24/7? Use some common sense. And your thoughts on Cal overall are beyond wrong. Again, his reputation is tarnished because of what Marcus Camby did. You think he is scum because of what Marcus Camby did. That isn’t Calipari, I promise you that.

    Repaying the money doesn’t erase what he did, no. But it shows he is remorseful and did what he could to try and rectify the situation. He has said sorry. He has repayed his debt. What else does this guy gotta do? Do you need him to literally fall on a sword?! And I said the money the NCAA made off the sale of his jerseys, not the school. You then turned that into paying the athlete, which isn’t what I said at all. I talked about the profit the NCAA made.

    The $60k number you read in the SI article was the amount in loans that the agent took out to try and pursue Camby. The $28k figure is the cash total given to Camby. Read a bit more in the 5 page SI article….

    Also, in response to your comment to one of the other commenter’s, John Cheney doesn’t hate Calipari. They have fixed their relationship. It has been documented. Rick Pitino isn’t really the ideal person to be making comments about John Calipari being scum. He is more of an embarrassment to UMASS than Camby is, and I don’t actually think he is an embarrassment to UMAS at all. I LOVE Bobby Knight, but he is a talking head now. He also has taken quite a bit of heat for things in his career and was actually fired as a coach because of it. Bill Simmons? I’m going to ignore that one completely.

    The message UMASS is putting out there right now is that people can make mistakes but that we need to move past those mistakes and move on. That’s what the school is doing. In my opinion, they are about 7 years late in doing so. Your embarrassment is unfounded.

    I’m going to let it slide that you didn’t answer my comment about an apathetic alumni base being a bigger detriment to the program.


  11. Actually, the $28k CASH figure might be much smaller. I'd have to add everything up, but it looks like the cash figure is a smaller amount, but the total of the cash, gifts and prostitutes totaled $28k, which is what he paid back to the "agent" upon fear for his life.

    Just wanted to clarify...


  12. So an agent took out 60K to pamper Camby and you think he only gave away 28K of it? Plus that was just ONE of the agents pursuing Camby. There were multiple. Also, whether it was 60K or 20K that hardly matters. We are never going to agree on this but overall I want people to know I don't think Camby's should be shunned or anything like that. Hold a Marcus Camby night, great. That would send your message of forgiveness. Retiring someone's number is the highest honor that can be bestowed, and I just think too much damage was done by Camby for him to deserve that.

    Also, You don't have to let anything slide so I'm glad you mentioned that I missed something. I simply forgot to address what you said about the apathetic alumni base in my first comments. You may be right, that could be the biggest detriment to the program, but I don't see how that is relevant to anyone's opinion on whether or not Camby's number should be retired. Can't expect alumni to get excited about a program out in Western Mass that was terrible when we were students there. No one went to the games. Why would any alumni start caring now? the AD needs to generate buzz on campus first if they are interested in grabbing the alumni's attention.

    PS- Thanks for your insight. And I respect you leaving your comments with an ID.

  13. You are why blogs suck. You can pick an opinion and come up with whatever you want to make up to back up your position. And if you are completely wrong on 90% of it, oh well. It's not your day job.

    You aren't an embarrassed alum. You are an embarrassment. You just throw whatever crap you want about people out there into cyberspace. Classy.

  14. Yea cuz I'm the first guy out there to trash Camby and Calipari..... and hey, it's called the 1st amendment. Freedom of speech. I heard about this ridiculous jersey retirement, felt strongly against it, and decided to write my opinion on my blog. Sorry you disagree, and you can trash me all you want but at least I put my opinions out there to be judged and I own it. Look at what your saying in the comment section anonymously....

  15. Wow-way too many adjectives. Your writing is a bigger embarassment to UMASS,never mind the content. With friends like you, UMASS does not need enemies. Now go back down into mom and dad's basement and play some more video games.

  16. Much of the rest of the 60k the wanna be agent took out went to none other than Ray Allen. Same year, same "scandal", same agent....

  17. You have an "opinion" like everyone else but would be better off to keep it to yourself! You are "not" the first to object to this so don't take any credit for that! I'm prouder of the fact that we have plenty of responses that show you are wrong. Just let it go !
    Tom M '72

  18. Calipari is a scumbag / loser. These violations don't just "happen" to follow him around. If you actually think that, I have some land in Florida you might be interested in you gullible plebeian. And it sounds like someone's butt hurt that a person would actually disagree how a guy, Camby, who took money and knowingly put his team in jeopardy of being sanctioned, shouldn't get his number retired. Get real. You UMass alum can choose to forget, but the rest of us will continue to remember how you got beat in the final four and your wins wiped from the record books.

  19. Read the article by Harry Plummer in today's Mass LIve/Union news. As for the above commenter, good kids do things they shouldn't all the time despite being warned beforehand. If you don't believe it, raise a few kids.

  20. Tom M from 1972- Last time I checked, an opinion can't be wrong. And you said it yourself- other people have objected to this in the past. I certainly never tried to take credit as being the first person.

    To the anonymous commentator who has yet to identify themselves- Sorry you were not able to handle all the adjectives. Also I do not live at home, although I do enjoy BO2 occasionally.

    PS- If any of the anonymous commentators out there care, and I think at least 1 of you might, I'll be writing something up on NFL kickers soon. Cant wait to see the comments on that one...