DeGregorio: Calipari never forgot roots

Former Clarion College coach Joe DeGregorio says Kentucky coach John Calipari never forgot his Pennsylvania roots.

Former Clarion College coach Joe DeGregorio says Kentucky coach John Calipari never forgot his Pennsylvania roots.

When Calipari took Massachusetts to the 1996 Final Four, he invited DeGregorio, DeGregorio's wife and other friends and family members to come to New York for the event. "There were probably 30 of us. We were there with his college roommate, high school buddies. We were riding around in a stretch limo. It was fantastic," DeGregorio said.

Calipari played at Clarion under DeGregorio and graduated in 1982 with a degree in marketing. Three weeks after the 1996 Final Four ended, DeGregorio got a package in the mail with a Final Four ring speckled with diamonds.

When DeGregorio was inducted into the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame a few weeks after Memphis team lost to Kansas in the 2008 national title game, Calipari flew in for the ceremony and then flew back to Memphis the same night.

"John Calipari has never forgotten where he came from," DeGregorio, 74, said. "I still look at the ring. It is right on my desk. It is a beaufitul ring and was a tremendous present. It's nice when guys pay you back."

DeGregorio's wife would always host a preseason team dinner when Calipari played for Clarion. "We would get a nice card back from him thanking us for the dinner," DeGregorio said. "I know you read things in the papers or see stuff on the Internet that is not very flattering about John. But I think Kentucky is very fortuante to have a young man like John. He will take them where want to go and do it the right way with the right people. Kentucky is lucky to have him."


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