There is no joy in the Bluegrass State. Louisville's Rick Pitino admits to knocking up a whack job. And last Thursday brought the news that the NCAA stripped the Memphis Tigers of all their victories in 2007-2008 for using an ineligible player, namely NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose. The Tigers were coached by one John Calipari shown above in his first presser as the new coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky now holds the distinction of having a coach in their employ who has taken two teams to the Final Four only to have both trips voided by the NCAA. Marcus Canby signed with an agent. Derrick Rose had somebody take the SAT for him. Calipari swears he knew nothing about either procedural difficulty involving these players.
Which is highly unlikely.
A review of the NCAA's "Public Infractions Report" concerning the Memphis Tigers under Calipari's watch is instructive and should be required reading for every Wildcats fan. The gist of the case against the basketball team is that Derrick Rose was ineligible based on some funny test scores that he failed to explain away. They were also penalized over the coach of the women's golf team's unseemly overtures to some of her players. But that is neither here nor there.
Concerning the ineligibility issue, the report states that Rose-identified as "Student-athlete 1"-took the ACT 3 times in his hometown of Chicago and flunked same thrice. In May of 2007, he went to Detroit and took the SAT which he passed. He certified as eligible by the NCAA upon that basis and on he went to don the Blue and White.
By October, the Inspector General of the Chicago Public Schools (the fact that they have an Inspector General tells you all you need to know about the state of public education in Chicago) notified Educational Testing Services that there were some alleged improprieties concerning the SAT Rose passed in the Motor City. ETS started its own investigation. By now, we are into the college basketball season and the Memphis Tigers are running roughshod over Conference USA with Derrick Rose at the point.
In March, ETS writes Rose to notify him of discrepancies between handwriting samples taken from the 4 tests. Seems the handwriting on the SAT didn't match up exactly with the handwriting on the 3 ACTs Rose flunked. Rose did not respond. ETS wrote him again in April. Again Rose failed to respond. ETS invalidated the SAT score and turned it over to the NCAA and away we go.
Memphis's defense was that a) the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled that Rose was eligible when it appeared he passed the SAT and b) it didn't have sufficient information at the time to suspect that he would be ruled ineligible later. Let us turn now to the Report.
NCAA Committee Member: [I]f you have a test score that is invalidated, you didn't have the scores to be admitted to begin with. Where am I wrong?"
University Legal Counsel: At the time he was admitted on the score that was provided at the time, is that your question? Was he eligible, in looking backwards, whether he was eligible or not?
NCAA Committee Member: Yes. He didn't have the score.
University Legal Counsel: We have acknowledged that.
Committee Member: You have acknowledged that he was ineligible.
University Legal Counsel: Yes, and we have to address that, based on after-the-fact information.
Committee Member: It doesn't matter.
There is no sentence a lawyer hates to hear worse than " It doesn't matter." And upon that basis Memphis is stripped of 38 wins, the runner-up trophy and it must cough up @ 600 grand.
And where is the "student-athlete?" He is starting his second season in the NBA. Last year he was the Rookie of the Year. And Calipari left Memphis one step ahead of the Sheriff. Just as he did at UMass.
Calipari is nowhere mentioned in the Report. But do you believe for one minute that he didn't have any reason to suspect that there was some funny business with the SAT results? The kid flunked three times in Chicago and manages to pass when he gets a change of scenery? In Detroit? You don't think that Rose didn't ever mention to Coach Cal during March Madness that the ETS was bugging him about the test results? Do you believe that?
And guess what? This isn't the first time down this path for Memphis either. They got their Final Four season under Dana Kirk invalidated about 15 years ago. You would think that the prudent thing, once they got wind that the NCAA or ETS was poking around, would have been to sit Rose until they got it worked out. But no.
Look, DI men's sports is a cesspool. And basketball is the bottom of the cesspool. As Mile Lupica says, guys like John Calipari don't hire themselves. And now Kentucky, a known NCAA recidivist itself, has got a guy at the helm that will go down in history as one of the bigger cheaters in the game. I mean, c'mon. Even Jerry Tarkanian didn't have 2 Final Fours voided.
But Calipari has also brought in a recruiting class some have said is the best ever in college basketball. Which is why the bluebloods in Lexington held their nose and hired a known recruiter of thugs in order to up the ante in the dirty arms race between them and Louisville. It's just business.
But don't be surprised at whatever may happen down the road. Just sayin'.