It's more about Derrick Rose than John Calipari

Allegations currently point more to chicago than memphis

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMay 31, 2009 

John Clay

There may come a day when John Calipari's detractors will finally catch the coach red-handed at something other than guilt by association.

But this isn't that day.

Here's why: The NCAA allegations against the Memphis basketball program aren't a John Calipari issue.

They're a Derrick Rose issue.

Page 8 of the 13-page letter outlining the allegations sent by the NCAA to the University of Memphis states:

"It is alleged that (name redacted), prospective men's basketball student-athlete, failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics for his knowing fraudulence or misconduct in connection with his entrance examination."

It goes on to allege that (named redacted) knew that "an unknown individual completed (name redacted)'s SAT ... which was used to obtain his admission into the institution and to certify his NCAA eligibility."

The redacted name is not John Calipari's. It is reportedly that of Derrick Rose. The NCAA is not alleging that Calipari or the University of Memphis had anything to do with the test in question. It's not even alleging that Calipari knew that improprieties in the test occurred. That's why Calipari's name is not mentioned in the letter.

And remember, it was the NCAA Clearing House, after looking at Rose's test scores and academic transcript, that certified Rose's eligibility to play his freshman season with the Tigers.

True, there is also the $2,260 in "extra benefits to (passage redacted) of men's basketball student-athlete (name redacted)," received in free transportation and lodging to Memphis road games. That is reported to be Derrick's brother, Reggie, who often accompanied the Tigers, and re-paid the school except for the $2,260 in question.

Is it against NCAA rules for the brother of a player to accompany the team to a road game via charter plane, or stay at the team hotel? That is to be determined, apparently. The NCAA wants Memphis to explain its policy on such matters come June 6.

Yet all this, apparently, is the proof detractors were looking for to confirm their long-held belief that Calipari operates beneath the rules.

Never mind that Rose took his (third) SAT in his hometown of Chicago before he ever reached the Memphis campus. Never mind that the person the NCAA thinks took the test for Rose was a high school teammate, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Never mind that three players (including Rose) on that team allegedly had their grades changed to help with college admissions.

I'm not naive enough to think a college coach couldn't be involved in such a thing. But does this seem like Calipari orchestration or a Chicago inside job?

And, oh yeah, never mind that the NCAA sent a letter to Calipari stating he is not considered to be "at risk"?

The truth is the process is still in the preliminary stages. There's been no "NCAA official letter of inquiry," the certain harbinger of doom. What Memphis received in January was a "notice of allegations," resulting from a "preliminary inquiry" which found that "the available information appears to be of sufficient substance and reliability to warrant a notice of allegations."

The letter also states that "if the institution does not believe that the allegation is substantially correct, it should support its position with any evidence upon which the conclusion is based."

Memphis doesn't believe the allegations are correct. That's why it entered into a bidding war in late March to try and prevent Calipari from leaving to go to Kentucky.

And, yes, should Memphis be forced to vacate its 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance over Rose's eligibility, it will not look good for Calipari to have the word "vacated" replace his two Final Four appearances.

And yes, I'm cynical enough to think there may well be an instance when the national media can crow its I-told-you-so's about Calipari.

But this isn't that instance, because this isn't even about John Calipari.

It's about Derrick Rose.

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com.

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