Questions and answers about Bledsoe case

Former UK guard's situation differs from Rose's

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMay 31, 2010 

Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe's high school grades in Alabama were the subject of an investigation by the Birmingham Board of Education.

MARK CORNELISON | STAFF FILE PHOTO

Ten questions about the Eric Bledsoe case:

1. Is Kentucky being investigated? UK has not received any letter of inquiry or any notice that the NCAA is looking into anything the school did in its recruitment of Bledsoe.

2. How is this like the Derrick Rose case? It's like the Rose case in that the NCAA could possibly rule that because of additional information Bledsoe was in fact ineligible to play college basketball. If that's the case, UK would have to vacate the games in which Bledsoe played last season. But we're a long way from that.

3. How is this unlike the Rose case? Rose's case dealt with one test score, and improper benefits given to his brother. Bledsoe's case could deal with a number of grades, and the circumstances behind the rise in his GPA after he changed schools.

There is also the question of whether the Parker coach, Maurice Ford, was demanding money from college coaches in exchange for signing Bledsoe.

4. But wasn't Ford unhappy after Bledsoe committed to Kentucky? The coach reminded the Herald-Leader's Jerry Tipton of that on Saturday.

"If you kept up with the story, you know I was against him coming to Kentucky to play with John Wall," Ford said. "So how could I be shopping him to Kentucky when I was against him coming to Kentucky. What sense does that make?"

5. Isn't this like the Darrell Arthur case at Kansas? Not really. Arthur was a forward on Kansas' 2008 national title team, the one that beat Memphis in the NCAA finals. After the fact, it came out that a teacher at his Texas high school had changed a grade so that Arthur could be eligible for a tournament. He was subsequently ruled ineligible and his high school had to forfeit games, including a state title.

But the NCAA ruled Kansas had no reason to know about the changed grade, since it did not affect Arthur's diploma status or his standardized test score.

6. Does it lessen the story that it was posted by the New York Times on the Friday night of a holiday weekend? No. Newspapers print stories when they are satisfied they have solid and accurate information of interest to their readers. Sometimes, that happens to be the Friday night of a holiday weekend.

7. Is the Times out to get John Calipari? The Times is out to get a good story. One of the reporters on the story, Pete Thamel, has done extensive and excellent reporting on fraudulent prep schools, academic cheating and eligibility issues. He knows this area.

8. With that said, has UK or Calipari done anything wrong? No. UK was quick to point out Saturday that the NCAA's Eligibility Center conducted an extensive prospective student-athlete review and certified Bledsoe's eligibility. The hope is that UK was also alarmed by Bledsoe's sudden and timely academic success and did its own investigation, in addition to the one conducted by the NCAA.

9. Do you think UK will end up in trouble? No one really knows, but I am reminded of a previous example, the one involving UK pitcher James Paxton.

Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart told Paxton he could not allow him to play in the 2010 season unless the pitcher submitted to an interview requested by the NCAA. Paxton declined the request. Barnhart said he could not play Paxton for fear the NCAA could later rule the pitcher ineligible, causing UK baseball to forfeit any games in which Paxton participated.

Hopefully, Barnhart used the same litmus test with regards to Bledsoe.

10. So weren't you a little hard on Calipari in Sunday's paper? Maybe, maybe not. (My e-mailers agree I was too hard.) Either way, Friday's story confirms that given Calipari's reputation, fairly or unfairly, people are going to ask questions about his recruits.

That's just the way it's going to be.

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

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