Should Calipari Be Held Accountable?
Memphis will be forced to vacate the NCAA-record 38 victories from its Final Four season of 2007-08 under former coach John Calipari and serve three years' probation because of NCAA rules violations, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced Thursday.
The NCAA in May accused Memphis of several major infractions under Calipari, including a fraudulent SAT score by a player, later revealed to be Derrick Rose, and providing close to $1,700 in free travel to Rose's brother, Reggie.
Paul Dee, the chairman for the COI, said in a teleconference that even though Memphis was not aware of Rose's questionable test score until midway through his freshman year, once the score was invalidated by Educational Testing Service, Rose no longer met the initial eligibility standards.
"This is a situation of strict liability," Dee said. "If he is ineligible and does not meet initial requirements, the penalties are related back to that time and a determination is then made: Did he play in any contests after the fact? In this case, he did."
Calipari was not penalized because he was never included in the original notice of allegations, Dee said. He did, however, stress that vacating the record books carries with it an implied punishment.
Calipari is now the first head coach to have vacated Final Four appearances with two different schools. His 1996 Massachusetts team met the same fate because of NCAA rules violations, even though Calipari was not implicated in that instance, either.
"Whenever records are vacated, that is a strong indication that there was a problem," Dee said. "Because there were no allegations against the coach, we did not consider any but whenever you have a situation that affects a team's record or an individual's personal record, it will have an impact on that individual."
Though hit with a failure-to-monitor charge, Memphis will not be penalized and will escape a postseason ban or loss of scholarships. The university will, however, have to repay the money it received from its Final Four run and remain on probation until 2012.
"That means the university is on heightened review," Dee said of the probation. "Probably the most important thing about probation is once a school goes on probation, if they commit another major violation within five years they are subject to a special review and substantially harsher penalties."
Memphis originally received the notice of allegations on Jan. 16 and appeared before the committee in June. The primary academic allegation against Rose is that someone stood in for him and took the SAT Rose was supposed to take, even though the NCAA Eligibility Center later cleared Rose to play.
One puzzling mention in the COI report: Chicago native Rose took the fraudulent test in Detroit.
Where Rose took the test and when he received a passing score -- a month before he enrolled at Memphis after failing to qualify three times -- was never specifically addressed, Dee said.
"The information was available that the exam was taken outside of Chicago," Dee said.
"However, when we made the determination that the testing service had canceled the test score, it obviated the need to ask the question as to where the test was taken."
Kentucky media relations director DeWayne Peevey said Calipari, who was hired April 1 by the university, would not have a comment at this time.
Calipari, appearing at the Kentucky State Fair, had no comment Thursday morning prior to the report's release but did say he would be "disappointed" if Memphis was stripped of its Final Four appearance.
"We don't know anything, because I'm not going to comment because I have to wait on the finding," Calipari said. "I would be disappointed if that's what they chose to do."
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, appearing at the fair with Calipari, said before the release of the report that he was not concerned about the troubles at Memphis following Calipari to Lexington.
"I'm not worried about it because they have never said Coach Cal did anything wrong at all," Beshear said. "I think he's a very upstanding guy. I think that's his reputation and I think that reputation will be with him here. I really don't foresee any problems."
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who hired Calipari away from Memphis earlier this year, declined to comment.
Barnhart told the AP last week he wasn't concerned about the potential violations, which became known only after Kentucky hired Calipari. The coach has not been deemed "at risk" by the NCAA, and Barnhart stressed Calipari is eager to help the Wildcats win the right way.
"There's one thing John says: 'I want my banners to count for something and I want to put the rings on the fingers and let them stay there,' " Barnhart said. "That's important to him, and so he is embracing any help that we give him to make sure we're able to, at the end of the day, not have to look over our shoulders and worry."
Memphis coach Josh Pastner declined to comment on the reports Thursday morning, deferring to university officials. Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson was not available for comment.
Memphis Tigers men's basketball team to vacate 38 victories from 2007-08 - ESPN
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