UK basketball

Probe of Bledsoe's grades ordered by superintendent

He acts after meeting with ahsaa; coach's attorney welcomes it

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 16, 2010 

The attorney representing Eric Bledsoe's coach at Parker High School said Tuesday he and his client welcomed an upcoming investigation into the player's transcript by the Birmingham (Ala.) City Schools Superintendent Craig Witherspoon.

"I think the superintendent is doing his job," said Reginald McDaniel, the attorney representing former Parker High coach Maurice Ford. "His job is to come in and make sure safeguards are put in place and his staff is doing the right thing.

"But we welcome him to look at the records. There's nothing to hide because nobody did anything wrong."

Witherspoon met with officials of the Alabama High School Athletics Association on Monday. Afterward, he said he would investigate Bledsoe's transcript.

"I met Monday with officials from the Alabama High School Athletic Association regarding issues surrounding the eligibility of Eric Bledsoe during his years as a student in the Birmingham City Schools," Witherspoon said in a statement.

"The Birmingham City Schools will conduct an investigation into Eric Bledsoe's grades to ensure that the rules, policies and procedures outlined by the AHSAA were followed. Upon conclusion of the investigation, I will reconvene with the AHSAA."

In a story earlier this spring, The New York Times reported that NCAA investigators were asking questions about Bledsoe's academic transcript. The investigators were also asking questions about the conduct of Ford, Bledsoe's coach at Parker High School. The story raised allegations of Ford paying Bledsoe's rent for several months and marketing the player to college recruiters.

Ford's alleged actions were not mentioned in a story in The Birmingham News about Witherspoon beginning an investigation into Bledsoe's transcript.

McDaniel noted Bledsoe's transcript had been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center and compliance staffers at the universities of Florida and Kentucky.

"So there's nothing new," the attorney said. "Those guys are credible. They reviewed all the transcripts, and everything matched."

Witherspoon's primary task coming out of the 90-minute meeting with the Alabama High School Athletic Association will be verifying that the grades listed on Bledsoe's transcript are accurate, the Birmingham News reported.

"It is going to be going through documents and records," Witherspoon told the newspaper. "More so than interviews with individuals and that type of thing. ... The piece that we will be focused on will be grades and how that relates to AHSAA eligibility. We want to make sure there is supporting documentation for his grades and making sure all the pieces line up."

McDaniel suggested an investigation by Witherspoon, who was not superintendent when Bledsoe attended high school, could have a public relations component.

"He's basically just covering his bases, I assume," the attorney said. "... I understand him being a new superintendent. He wants to put forth a good face to the public."

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