MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—The University of Memphis is responding to NCAA allegations that the men’s basketball program committed major violations during the 2007-08 season under John Calipari, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The allegations include “knowing fraudulence or misconduct” on an SAT exam by a player on that season’s team, which finished runner-up in the NCAA tournament, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported on its Web site. The university received the notice on Jan. 16.
Lamar Chance, spokesman for the basketball program, declined comment Wednesday night when contacted by The Associated Press.
Kentucky, where Calipari became coach on March 31, said Calipari “was forthcoming with the University of Kentucky during the hiring process about any issues under investigation at the University of Memphis at that time.”
In a statement late Wednesday, Kentucky said Calipari had received a letter from the NCAA saying he was not at risk of being charged with any NCAA violations in the case.
Calipari said in the statement that he would fully cooperate with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions hearing on June 6 and had no further comment.
Because of privacy laws, the player’s name was redacted in the report, which was obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act.
Calipari is not named in the report, the newspaper said.
The NCAA also alleged Memphis provided $2,260 in free travel to road games for an associate of a player. Those names also were redacted in the report due to privacy laws, the paper reported.
“We take it very seriously. We don’t condone it,” athletic director R.C. Johnson told the paper.
He declined to comment in detail about the allegations. “We’re doing a thorough investigation.”
Johnson said the university is still working on its response to the NCAA.
Calls by The Associated Press to former Memphis assistant coaches Orlando Antigua and John Robic, both of whom went to Kentucky with Calipari, were not immediately returned.
Report: NCAA accuses Memphis Tigers of violations - College Basketball - Rivals.com
"If you ever fall, I'll be there." ---the Floor
Alleged violations could wipe out Memphis’ season
Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson defended the men’s basketball program Thursday, saying the school checks out all potential players.
He would not confirm that Derrick Rose, who led Memphis to the 2008 national title game, is at the center of an NCAA investigation of major violations during that season.
In a letter to the school the NCAA says an unknown person took the SAT for a player, with his knowledge, and then the player used that test to get into Memphis. The NCAA said the athlete in question played for the Tigers in the 2007-08 season and the 2008 NCAA tournament. The only person who played just that season was Rose.
“We wouldn’t play anybody if we hadn’t checked it out pretty thoroughly,” Johnson told The Associated Press.
Johnson would not identify the player involved for privacy reasons. But he said the player is cooperating with Memphis’ investigation into the allegations.
“Nobody has thrown up any road blocks,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to get it resolved and do it the right way.”
The NCAA has asked Memphis to provide copies of the SAT and a Sept. 2, 2008, report by a forensic document examiner who studied the handwriting in the SAT.
Rose was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft by Chicago and this season’s rookie of the year. His agent, B.J. Armstrong, did not immediately return calls from the AP.
Memphis was notified Jan. 16 of the potentially major violations in the men’s basketball program and will appear June 6 in Indianapolis before the NCAA committee on infractions for a hearing. Johnson declined to provide any details on what Memphis has found in its investigation prior to the hearing.
“We’ve been working on this for some time and continue to get our final presentation finalized and make sure we dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts,” Johnson said.
The alleged violations occurred under John Calipari, who left March 31 to take over at Kentucky. Calipari, who’s cooperating with the investigation, was told by the NCAA in a letter that he was not at risk of being charged with any violations in the case.
Kentucky president Lee Todd reiterated in a statement Thursday that his university was aware of the inquiry while interviewing Calipari.
“We are confident that Coach Calipari was not involved in any way,” Todd said. “He was very open with us about what he was aware of at that particular time, and since this is an issue between the University of Memphis and the NCAA and not a UK issue, we will not be commenting further on anything related to this situation.”
Memphis faces the loss of its 38 wins that season.
New Memphis coach Josh Pastner said he wasn’t aware of the allegations when offered the job in April to replace Calipari.
“It’s nothing that will affect the current team, which I believe,” said Pastner, who first joined Tigers staff as an assistant in June 2008. “I can’t comment anymore than that.”
AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.
Alleged violations could wipe out Memphis' season - College Basketball - Rivals.com
"If you ever fall, I'll be there." ---the Floor
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