BY LARRY VAUGHT
There was never any proof that Dwane Casey put $1,000 inside an Emery Worldwide envelope headed for UK recruit Chris Mills in 1988 that mysteriously popped open and led to the NCAA placing Casey — then an assistant coach at UK — on five years probation. That ban was later rescinded when Casey settled his defamation lawsuit against Emery Worldwide.
“I learned from things that you can be accused of something you didn’t do. I know I didn’t do it,” Casey, now entering his seventh season as head coach of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, said. “I am not saying I am a perfect person, but I didn’t do that. I can sleep at night every night knowing I did not do that.
“I have a clear heart and clear mind and understand what happened and what the university went through. I had no ill feelings toward the university. I learned from it and the whole university learned from it. It made me a stronger person. As the old saying goes, what does not kill you makes you stronger. It made me stronger. But I did not do what they said I did and settling the lawsuit should have told everyone that.”
He says not once in his NBA coaching career has he been asked by a team owner or general manager about what happened at UK.
“If they had asked, I would have had a pure heart telling them I was not running from responsibility because mistakes were made at Kentucky when I was coaching there. But I did not do what they accused me of,” Casey said. “That’s why the lawsuit was settled. If I had done what they said, they would not have given me the money they gave me to settle.
“I would not want anyone to go through what I did to clear my name or all that the university went through. But thankfully that is all in the past. That was 30 years ago. Life goes on. That’s one of those things you regret happened but there are no hard feelings on my part. I still love Kentucky. I am trying to convince my kids to go to Kentucky.”