Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

September 18, 2013

UK basketball fans have lost a legend


Sept. 18, 2013 — An old joke concerns the definition of the word “pervert”.

The answer is that it is someone from Kentucky who likes sex better than basketball.

That obviously is an extreme view but our state’s long-term love affair with the sport of basketball, particularly the Kentucky Wildcats, is well documented.

In the days when Kentucky was last in every national statistic, and state politicians proudly pointed to the NCAA championship banners hanging in Memorial Coliseum and later in Rupp Arena.

Of all the great UK teams, none was more loved than Rick Pitino’s “Unforgettables”, the 1991–92 squad that went to the NCAA tournament after two years of probation resulting from recruiting misdeeds during the Eddie Sutton era.

That team had four seniors, three of whom were Kentuckians. They each endeared themselves to the Big Blue Nation because they had remained loyal to the program throughout its long, painful period.

Members of "The Unforgettables" were Richie Farmer, a shooting guard from Manchester; Deron Feldhaus, a forward from Maysville; John Pelphrey, a forward from Paintsville; and Sean Woods, a point guard from Indianapolis, Ind.

Woods, coincidentally, is now the head coach at Morehead State University. Pelphrey is an assistant coach at Florida.

The best player on that team was sophomore Jamal Mashburn, who went on to play 12 years in the NBA.

The Wildcats made it to the regional finals in the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Duke in a heartbreaker many consider the greatest college game in history.

Farmer parlayed his high profile as a college basketball hero into a statewide political career which saw him win two terms as state agriculture commissioner and run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.

At one point, he was openly touted as a future Republican prospect for governor in what would have been a fairy tale success story.

The remnants of that dashed dream were shredded last week in federal and state courtrooms where Farmer pleaded guilty to misappropriating public funds and to abusing his public trust as an elected official.

Today, he is free on bond while awaiting final sentencing that will send him to a federal prison for up to 27 months and cost him $120,000 in restitution and $63,000 for state ethics violations.

In our view, Richie Farmer has betrayed himself, his family, his university, his fans, his teammates, his state and his public office.

Without question, his jersey should come down from the rafters of Rupp Arena. He has to understand that there is no honor for or among thieves.