Saturday, August 22, 2009

Memphis Vacates Prestige: Calipari, Rose Scandal Generates Eternal Shame

In the NCAA, the multitude of scandals is troubling.

It normally results from coaches providing unlawful benefits that manipulate an appealing superstar to develop a relationship with one of the premier programs.

It could also, however, result from coaches making illegal phone calls to recruit athletes.

Normally, though, it involves coaches tampering with recruits unjustly in some shape or fashion, all to obtain talented prospects.

Flirting with athletic stars is one (wrong) thing, but violating academic rules are pehaps even more grievous deceptions.

Such infractions are an embarrassment as the NCAA hunts down and punishes universities with traditional pride, clouding memories of recent successes.

Such is the plight of the Memphis Tigers, humbled by an academic scandal that threatens the accomplishments of the past few seasons.

The Tiger basketball team celebrated. They amassed victories. They energized an entire community. And they were dominant, frequently pounding opponents in Conference USA in lopsided fashions.

But years ago, the team was forlorn and unstable, as a disengaged atmosphere permeated the program. Then, John Calipari instituted a superb program and changed dynamics with his clever-minded structure and charisma.

The main reason he allured recruits and built a compelling program was his charismatic influence.

Another reason was Memphis began showing the possibilities of advancing far in the NCAA tournament over the last few seasons.

Unfortunately, it would appear that these games were never won legitimately, meaning the Tigers might not have been as pure as advertised.

So now, the NCAA says the winning never happened, and accomplishing a glorious Final Four appearance, instead of being given an asterisk, was stricken from the books altogether.

They took away wonderful memories of Derrick Rose, who had a dazzling freshman season, leading the Tigers past their long-suffering Elite Eight lapses.

The ruling by the NCAA left the impression that the Tigers didn’t come up short, but came up dirty, smearing the university's image and ruining Calipari’s and Rose’s legacy in the process.

More embarrassingly, this was one of the premier programs in the country, and they were accused of committing one of the most outrageous scandals in college basketball. It wasn’t point-shaving, illegal recruiting or bribing a player, but academic fraud that forced Memphis to vacate its Final Four and 38 victories from the 2007-08 season.

That’s literally a shame, when a student-athlete's actions corrupt an entire program for disgusting blunders that shamelessly confirm an infamous reputation among a prosperous program.

And now, Memphis is being stripped of their flourishing season, and it makes you think no more of the record-setting year, when they went an entire season 38-2 to overwhelm the NCAA committee and bracketologists.

You can tear pages out of the history books and dispose of them. Sadly, though, Memphis might have erroneously infringed a policy that’s prohibited among NCAA rules in accepting the ineligible freshman sensation Rose, who is alleged to have had someone else take his SAT test as a high-school senior in Chicago.

So now, the Memphis administration are scapegoats, taking the critical punishment of someone else’s potential violations.

Memphis fans once had confidence that Calipari wouldn’t retrace his infamous background.

Thirteen years ago, Calipari was identified as a con artist at Massachusetts. He didn't carefully evaluate and monitor the program, and acknowledged that he had no notion star player Marcus Camby was taking improper gifts from a sports agent until the that Camby admitted that he received imprudent benefits.

The NCAA was investigating UMass when Calipari opted to avoid further issues, joining the Nets as Head Coach and Director of Basketball Operations. Instead of standing up, he ran from the scandal and cast shame on the Minuteman.

Once again, Calipari claims that he was unaware of scams and the alleged unlawful pampering of the explosive guard Rose, who was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2009 and emerged into a well-rounded product.

If he can revive the Bulls, Chicagoans will forget academic fraud was ever committed by the star-studded player. But, of course, the infractions remain eternally with Memphis athletics.

They’ll face the most scrutiny, after never managing to take full accountability of the fraud smearing its reputation. And for the rest of his life, fraudulent testing couldl haunt Rose.

Meanwhile, Calipari should have learned more about Rose’s eligibility and confirmed if he was acceptable academically. As investigators unmasked facts of Rose’s alleged sneaky habits to cheat on exams, his brother received $1,713.85 in forbidden benefits from the University of Memphis.

Though the school said Reggie Rose had been billed, they have not yet received a dime.

It’s tough to pull one over on the NCAA, particularly when suddenly Rose was granted college eligibility to take the SAT in Detroit.

That’s strange, and hard to affirm after he repeatedly (three times) failed the easier ACT. It’s obvious he wasn’t a genius at test-taking, but a floor general who qualified to play might have shamed himself simply to fulfill a lifelong dream.

Calipari could’ve and should've known, avoiding the ramifications that were involved.

Instead of standing up to wrongdoings, he rather ignored the potential infractions and refused to worry about past.

Then again, maybe he had no indications that fraud was smudging the program, though this is highly unlikely.

Spirited fans in Lexington will probably let depravity slide, understanding Calipari is an ambassador and savior in reviving aspiration at Kentucky, one of the premier college programs in the nation.

He might finally have a clear message for bypassing and staying conscious of what develops. He’s now running a very demanding program with high expectations and traditional values.

After all he’s the ambassador to the state of Kentucky.

But unfortunately, the alleged infractions were severe enough to vacate a miraculous season and Final Four memories for Memphis.

Sometimes, you have to learn the hard way. And Calipari is one of them. Memphis, unfortunately for the school, is another.


This article was edited from its original version.