It was wrong when President John F. Kennedy did it.
It was wrong when President Donald Trump did it. And Eric Adams, Mayor of New York.
It was wrong when British men’s basketball coach John Calipari did it. And it’s wrong now that British football manager Mark Stoops has announced he hires his brother, Mike, as the new UK linebackers coach for undoubtedly a six-figure salary.
It may not be against the rules, but it’s still wrong when people working in public institutions or in positions of public trust hire their relatives. How do we know? Well, it’s against the rules of the University of Kentucky, but not the University of Kentucky Athletics (which gives you an idea of why this looks more like a professional sports franchise than a university athletic department).
Hiring your loved ones is inherently corrupt, which is why it was such a big reform when nepotistic hiring was outlawed as part of Kentucky’s Education Reform Act in public schools in 1990. It’s corrupt because there’s no way to believe you’ve hired the most qualified person or that they’ll be held to the same level of responsibility as anyone else.
It’s also corrosive: Brad Calipari, who played for his father and now works for him, will always wonder if it was his natural talent as a player or a coach that gave him a career in basketball, or was it his father propelling him to the top of the line for one of the most coveted spots in college sports?
Now, I understand that if you own your own business, whether it’s a hardware store or the New York Times, it’s natural to want to hire your family and keep it going through generations. But neither the US Presidency nor UK Athletics is a family business. Both are taxpayer-funded public trusts.
And yes, everyone in sports — from college teams to professional teams — does. But normalizing nepotism in a public educational institution is deeply, morally wrong, and sends the wrong message to the general public, and more importantly, to students who are there to be educated.
This story was originally published January 19, 2022 11:51 a.m.