Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Recruiter In UCF Scandal Tries To Clear His Name With Bizarre YouTube Explanation

The University of Central Florida football and men's basketball teams were hit with one-year postseason bans Tuesday for allegations that both squads conducted under-the-table business, primarily with a man named Ken Caldwell, that basically amounted to shady recruiting tactics between a third party and members of the respective coaching staffs. What proved truly bizarre about the whole scheme was that only one implicated player, A.J. Rompza of the basketball team, ever played a game for UCF and he recently graduated. (The football team does plan to appeal the ban.)

In addition to the postseason bans, the NCAA also handed down other significant penalties. Most interesting is that current players can transfer without having to sit out a year, which affects players like Marcus Jordan (son of Michael).

Now Caldwell, the man at the center of it all, has released some kind of bizarre video that's part confessional, part convoluted explanation, and all kinds of weird. Here's a complete transcript, if you're so inclined:

I find this whole situation to be totally blown out of proportion due to my background. Had I not had a criminal background, this wouldn't even be news. But since I have a criminal background, all of a sudden, anyone that has any knowledge of knowing me in the basketball world, or any other world, is being affected, at — at all — at great lengths.

I find that to be preposterous.

I want to address all of these allegations, and keep it real with you, and everybody else that's out here, to show how the NCAA unfairly, unjustly accused myself and others of being a part of a fold, in cahoots, or whatever you all want to call it, which is not true. Flat out, not true.

Do I have affiliations with agents? Yes I do. Do I know them? I know them all. Yes, I know everyone in basketball. People know me. That is not a crime. That is not an infraction. That is not a violation. What the NCAA has done — they have taken the truths and turned them into what they want to call infractions, allegations, violations.

Now I am going to show what the NCAA, how they had conjured up all of this stuff from these allegations (picks up a tablet computer, which appears to have a redacted letter on the screen) and I am going to tell you the truth about each and every one of them.

Let's start out with the money.

What money?

Oh, the money that I allegedly paid for student athletes. Let's talk about, it was like $11,000 at one time. What that $11,000 was for my — I was the legal guardian of that particular player at the time. (Makes "huh?" gesture.) I was his legal guardian when he came on, a walk-on player, that player on at the University of Central Florida.

Let's talk about the $200, the $400, the, uh, other $200, that, they talk about, A.J. Rompza. Anyone in America who knows me knows that I am like A.J. Rompza's second dad. I'm sure the NCAA didn't want to tell you all about the letter his mom wrote. I'm sure the NCAA doesn't walk to talk about how they did not interview his mom, but they interviewed everyone else around him. Why didn't they interview his parents? His family? People that know him, and my connection? They didn't tell you about that. But she wrote a letter to the NCAA and explained to them that I am like his second father. So if your second father cannot give you money, then who can? It's a violation for someone to give a — someone that you love, or someone that you care about — money? That's a violation to say that you can't, in my world.

Now you talk about — all this stuff, these kids that came up to the school, that had affiliations to me, that wanted to come to Central Florida. Those people's parents reached out to me first. But does the NCAA talk about that? Do they talk about, they have my phone records and how they show that those people called me first? They took all of those athletes' phone records. And those phone records will clearly show those people called me first.

Now you say (mocking tone) "Why did they call you, Ken? What did they — who wanna go to Central Florida call you?" Well, as far as Chicago went, since A.J. went there, everyone would ask me about Central Florida because I had been out there so many times to see A.J. And when I come back I talked about how I liked the place so much. And people was like, "Wow, you'd like a place like that, it's gotta be something."

Don't get mad at me. Because I said I like a place. Don't get mad at me because I promoted something that I like. People out here promote everything that they like. You hear rappers all the time talk about Bentleys. But is that a violation? Not at all.

The other things that I want to address: my relationship with David Kelly. I know David Kelly. Were we the best of friends? No. But did we become friends? Absolutely. Absolutely. But what no one would know that — I talked to David Kelly on the phone, but never had met him. And why did I talk to David Kelly on the phone? Because a parent from Louisiana called me and told me that her kid was interested in the University of Central Florida, from a friend of mine that knew that I knew about the University of Central Florida. All I did was relay a message back to Keith Tribble, because I knew him. And he relayed the message to his coach. And we all became connected that way. It was nothing more or nothing less.

They don't talk about how many times I used to try to call Keith Tribble and tell him about players and how he did not take my calls. They don't talk about that. They act like I had the school on (joins hands together) lock.

I don't like the fact of how the University of Central Florida has thrown myself and others under the bus, and act as if they never knew me, or others. I don't like that. But I'm definitely just not going to sit here and allow the NCAA to go out there and say whatever they want to say, and have everyone out here form an opinion, that I am just a bad guy, that I brought down a program, that I am the center of it all, because I have a background.

I tell you one thing: They need to take a look at those people on (tilts head) that side. So many people leave the NCAA because of their practices. I have nothing to hide. I told you, I have ties to sports agencies. I told you that I know everybody at every level of basketball. I've been out here for over 20 years helping kids achieve their goals in basketball and life. There's life after basketball. That's what I tell people all the time: there's life after basketball, everybody's not a pro.

And do you want to know the funniest thing about this whole allegation? Everyone that they talking about, is not a pro! Everyone they're talking about is not on the lips of NBA people right now.

I got excited about a player. People respect my opinion about what I say about basketball. So be it. It's just like anyone else promoting somebody that they know. "Oh, I saw this kid on the playground, he can hoop." And you tell people about him. If I see a kid that I think can hoop, I'm telling people about him. Many, many, many college coaches call me all the time. They know who they are. They are out here. They're calling me now! Because of my knowledge of the game. They know I understand the game of basketball. Nothing more, nothing less. Have I made a dollar in this game? Absolutely hot. Have I spent my own money in this game? Hell, yeah.

So, I have a lot to say when I have spent my own money helping others than to be out here ridiculed about how I brought down some institution. Which is not true. The NCAA chose to use me as a scapegoat. I'm not going to back down. I have nothing to hide, and nothing to lose. I have everything to gain. Because there's many people out here that are like me, that help others out here. And I'm speaking up for the guys like me. And there's tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of guys like me.

Somebody has to stop the bleeding with the NCAA. And I'm here to stop it.

And though Caldwell talks for nine-plus minutes, he never actually gets around to saying anything, at least nothing that refutes any of the charges that Pete Thamel's original New York Times investigation in April 2011 addressed. Mind you, this video is labeled "Part 1." More truth on the way!

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