This morning the Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting that later today the NCAA Committee on Infractions will force Memphis to vacate its 38-win 2007-08 season, a year that would have ended with a national championship if not for a timely three by Mario Chalmers of Kansas. The Committee apparently will rule that Derrick Rose is retroactively ineligible, due to travel on the team plane provided to his brother and, more importantly, an SAT score that, it is alleged, was achieved not by Rose but by a stand-in.
Remember three things:
1. John Calipari owes his job at Kentucky to an outdated NCAA reflex and a tight-lipped administration at Memphis. I frankly don’t understand the Skull-and-Bones-Society-level secrecy that attends the NCAA’s Notices of Allegations. Memphis received their NOA in January. If the allegations had been publicly known, there is no earthly way John Calipari would have been hired by Kentucky on April 1. Yes, the UK administration was apprised of the situation before they pulled the trigger on the hire. I just can’t believe that Calipari would have been the winner of a search process where the administration and the public at large were working from the same set of facts. (Or am I giving Kentucky too much credit?) When a regulatory arm of the federal government alleges wrongdoing at a publicly traded firm, they say so. The firm is of course entitled to a day in court and maybe the allegations will turn out to be groundless. But the earth continues to spin.
2. Kentucky should henceforth take a good long look at their incoming players’ test scores. In addition to the Rose allegations, there is of course the deliciously extreme case of former Memphis player Robert Dozier, who as a high school student reportedly zoomed from the fourth percentile in both his verbal and math scores on the PSAT to the 76th and 89th percentiles in verbal and math, respectively, on the SAT. The magnitude of the improvement here suggests two and only two possibilities: 1) wrongdoing, or 2) Robert Dozier is actually Charlie Gordon.
3. Derrick Rose needs to say what he knows. Maybe the NCAA is wrong and Rose really did take the SAT all by himself. If not, however, the wise course for Rose would have been full disclosure, ideally today. Instead he has crawled pretty far out on a shaky limb: “I know I didn’t do anything wrong.” Using someone else’s test score as your own is wrong. If that is what he did and if he admits it, he will find this whole thing is effectively behind him with amazing speed. (Yes, I realize the allegedly bogus test score could be seen as tantamount to fraud, that the value of his athletic scholarship at Memphis could be the ill-gotten gain, etc. Understood. I just don’t think Memphis will win a lot of sympathy, or future recruits, by suing Rose.) After all, as a certain coach once said: “When you have a problem, if you tell the truth, your problem becomes a part of your past. If you lie, it becomes a part of your future.”
As for Calipari, I can tell you from personal experience that he is quite simply a force of Twitter nature. That he, like the rest of us, has trouble spelling “Doug Wojcik” correctly. That his Twitter page clearly benefits from a level of staff ghosting usually reserved for heads of state. (”Rodney McMullen, a UK grad was named President of Kroger! Congrats Rodney! We are proud of you AND to be a partner w/ the company you lead!!”) And that at the end of the day both of his Final Four appearances (UMass 1996, Memphis 2008) will, apparently, have been vacated.