Back on the clock — catching up

Miss a week, miss a lot. Remember when the last week of May used to be a quiet sports time around here? That was back in the days when horses threatened to win Triple Crowns. This year it’s just a jockey.

Between May 20 and May 31 three years ago, I checked the records to find that I wrote exactly one story — a gamer on the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. A year later, in the columnist’s chair, I wrote about a pro beach volleyball tournament in town, a U of L women’s golfer and UK’s decision to bail on a men’s basketball game against UMass.

Not exactly stuff that crept into ESPN’s SportsCenter.

But May went out like a lion — actually, more accurately, a Tiger — this year.

Before I was off for a week, news broke about Jeremy Jarmon being suspended for a year by the NCAA. Then last week, I watched from the sidelines as major news erupted.

So let me play catch up:

NCAA CHARGES AGAINST MEMPHIS

Two allegations: One that Derrick Rose cheated on his SAT and was therefore ineligible when the team made its run to the 2008 NCAA title game, the other that Rose’s brother got some free trips on the team plane and didn’t reimburse the program. Neither Rose nor his brother has been named in public documents, but are believed to be those involved from the context.

Let’s get this straight from the top — unless something pretty dramatic happens, this will not have much affect on John Calipari at Kentucky. It would take a pretty big bombshell for Calipari to be implicated in any kind of alleged scheme to have someone take Derrick Rose’s SAT for him. If Rose is found to have let a substitute take his test for him, I don’t believe for a minute that he orchestrated it himself. But that’s my opinion. I haven’t seen any more facts in the case than have been made public. People can speculate, but that’s a charge you don’t make unless you’ve got something to back it up.

On the charter plane business, I’ve been offered rides on team charters a good number of times in my life, with various programs, and in every instance the offer was made by a head coach. (For various reasons, I’ve never taken any of them up on it.) I don’t think in the end Calipari will be singled out as the responsible party on the charter plane business. I guarantee you he knew who was flying. Whether he knew who had paid and who hadn’t is questionable. Anyway, it’s a matter that will probably be cleared up by a reimbursement check.

While this “not at risk” letter the NCAA sent Calipari is nice for the coach to have, it also doesn’t mean much. If Memphis or Rose pointed a finger at Calipari in response to questions, he could find himself at great risk pretty quickly.

Don’t expect that to happen.

Meanwhile, this has been an “Aha!” story for many. Media members and commentators who warned that UK could be putting itself at risk with this hire didn’t have to wait long to claim those predictions had come to fruition.

The lynchpin of these arguments has been the reported possibility that Memphis could have to vacate its 2008 Final Four appearance. That would mean that both of Calipari’s Final Four appearances as a coach would have been wiped out by NCAA violations. Neither would have involved him, according to the NCAA, but both would be wiped from the record.

If that were to happen, I’d say it should be a huge concern for any school where Calipari is coaching.

It’s not going to happen.

Did Memphis get to the NCAA title game with an ineligible player in 2008? Quite possibly. But unlike Marcus Camby at UMass, whose transgressions took place while a student in Amherst, Rose’s alleged violation happened before he ever arrived at Memphis, and in fact, his academic credentials had been cleared by the NCAA itself before the fact. His situation more mirrors that of Duke, which went to the NCAA title game with Corey Maggette in 1999. Maggette took money from AAU coach Myron Piggie, it was learned after that season. Duke claimed to have no knowledge of the shenanigans, and the NCAA didn’t strip the Blue Devils of their Final Four appearance.

Among those who lacked oversight in the Rose situation, apparently, is the NCAA’s clearinghouse itself. I’m not sure, but I don’t think schools even receive individual copies of potential students’ SATs. As far as I know, they only get the result. How then was Memphis to have rooted out a handwriting inconsistency on a test that was taken by a non-Memphis student in a classroom 500 miles away?

Now I’ve watched a lot of NCAA infractions cases move forward, and one thing to remember is that you NEVER know what minute point the NCAA might seize upon to anchor its case. You may think you’re comparing apples to apples in comparing NCAA cases, but they have a way of turning something into an orange before you know it.

Right now, the operative statements are the ones Memphis has prepared for the NCAA (which they’re not yet making public) and any statements Rose has given the NCAA.

(In the meantime, I think there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this. And that is, if you’re a prospective college athlete, and you’re thinking about breaking the rules, just stop and really take a good look inward, pause and give some thought to what you’re about to do, then do the smart and safe thing . . . and sign with USC.)

At any rate, barring a vacated Final Four, the reality of all this for Calipari is far less damaging than the commentary to this point would suggest. Though both Calipari, and by extension UK, already has suffered some damage through perception alone.

Don’t get me wrong. The whole business won’t be a bullet-point on his resume. But it also isn’t anywhere close to a smoking gun.

At the same time, there are some guys in this mess who may have dodged a bullet, which brings us to . . .

THE TODD-BARNHART ANGLE

There is a serious question to be asked of UK about this deal at Memphis, but it isn’t aimed at Calipari. There’s reporting out there to suggest that some UK Trustees didn’t know that these allegations had been brought by the NCAA, despite claims by UK president Lee Todd and athletic director Mitch Barnhart that Calipari had been “very forthcoming” about the allegations.

This is not how business should be done at UK, or any state university. I don’t expect Barnhart or Todd to talk about upcoming NCAA investigations with the press, though it would be nice. It is and was reasonable, however, to expect Barnhart and/or Todd to inform both the board of trustees and the athletic board of the pending charges at Memphis. This was not a secret, even though nobody knew about it. The letter was public record the minute it was received by Memphis.

Also, NCAA director of enforcement David Price, in describing his discussions with Barnhart prior to the Calipari hire, paints a different picture than Barnhart did. Price said he had no discussions with UK regarding current cases, and that he referred UK to discuss it with Calipari.

Now it’s possible that Barnhart and Todd got lucky in this. They didn’t know Calipari was in the clear, but it looks as though he will be. Still, if I were a trustee at UK, I’d want to know immediately why I wasn’t informed of the full picture when Calipari was hired. But that’s just me.

GILLISPIE SUES UK:

This would be high comedy, if there weren’t so much money inv
olved.

I actually have a little more work to do before I weigh in fully on this one. But I will offer you this little take on the Top Ten reasons UK says its “Memorandum of Understanding” with Billy Gillispie didn’t constitute a formal contract:

10. Was written on a napkin from the Qdoba next to Memorial Coliseum
9. Did not indicate clearly enough that the coach was to beat teams like Gardner-Webb
8. Provided an incentive bonus for number of times the coach said “whipping”
7. Coach signed his name Billy “Glide” Cillispie
6. Coach marked through two paragraphs because they were “bad paragraphs.”
5. Witness to the memorandum signing is listed as “Jack Daniels.”
4. Last contract sent to Gillispie for signature was on a day he lost to Vandy by 13, raising question as to whether either party was of sound mind.
3. Was composed on an iPhone.
2. Salary is listed as “a very very very very very lot of money.”

And the No. 1 reason UK says its memorandum of understanding was not a formal contract . . .

1. Gillispie’s tenure was a joke, why shouldn’t the contract have been one?

Check back for more throughout the day, now that the blog is back again. Remember, you can follow my updates on Twitter @ericcrawford or at Facebook.com

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29 thoughts on “Back on the clock — catching up

  1. “…I don’t believe for a minute that he orchestrated it himself. But that’s my opinion. I haven’t seen any more facts in the case than have been made public. People can speculate, but that’s a charge you don’t make unless you’ve got something to back it up.”??

  2. Read those Bleacher Report blogs at your own risk!The thing you must realize is that the piece you linked to is clearly marked “opinion.”So when he says, “John Calipari is a liar,” it’s a forceful statement, but still his opinion.The problem with this piece is that the guy keeps trying to turn phrases (“Wait for it . . . ” and “Boom goes the dynamite.” Ugh) but never gets to backing up his point.All right. We know he thinks Calipari is lying. Why does he think that. Where has he lied in the past?You can make a case for this guy’s premise. He could have argued that coaches are such control freaks that nothing goes on in their programs without them knowing. He could get into Calipari’s coaching style and draw conclusions from that.Instead, he just gives his opinion, based on what he thinks, and says anyone who thinks otherwise is stupid. He keeps mentioning “evidence,” but offers none. We can all read a newspaper. We know what the violations and allegations are. You want to call someone a liar in an opinion piece, it’s your right. But at least be willing to back up your opinion with a reason or two.A piece like this will get plenty of readership. And I’m afraid, Anonymous 11:46 AM, you’re proof of it. More people will read a piece like this than a more substantive discussion that is less provocative.Maybe that’s why we see so many of them.I’ve got no problem with provocative opinions. But don’t just pound on your keyboard and yell.To Anonymous 7:56 AM — The paragraph you quote, I was doing a bit of what the previously mentioned writer was doing. It’s my feeling that a high school kid isn’t going to arrange for someone else to take his SAT on his own — if that’s what happened. But that’s just my belief. All I have on what parties might also be involved are theories, but those are like, well, you know what they’re like. And everyone has one.

  3. Eric, I think your article seems to be fair and your assumptions reasonable. However, I have a question about your editors allowing you to name Rose as the student in question while not allowing you to publish accusations against Rick Pitino that are the heart of a court case?Do you have sources that tell you the accusations against Rose are true? Was Rose a minor when the “crime” occurred, if so does the change anything? I would say the fact that they have chosen to be a public figure would trump those issues and the information should be public. A policy of reporting or not reporting these is fine, but why one and not the other?

  4. Mike Pratt seemed to want to take a lot of credit for checking Calipari out. Is he still taking credit?

  5. Brad, one is an individual charged in a formal document by the investigative arm of a major national organization.The other is an individual who has been charged with, well, nothing. By a person who is under indictment by a grand jury after the FBI found probable cause to charge her. In fact, those very accusations themselves may be a criminal act.So, one formally charged with a violation, by an organization that has used due process to lay out its accusations. Another not charged at all.That's the difference, and frankly, it shouldn't be hard to understand.

  6. My point is that Rose’s involvement in the investigation is a rumor that someone told you, just like the rumor about Pitino. At this point Rose is an individual who has been charged with, well, nothing.As far as public knowledge, Rose is not involved and Pitino did not do whatever the accuser is alleging. They are both rumors. One by a minor while in high school the other by one of the most powerful men in the city. I understand there is a strong argument to not repeat accusations that are baseless, but the CJ and every other paper does it on a regular basis. Chuck Hays (rape allegations by a crazy girl) and the Duke Lacrosse players (articles before the legal charges) come to mind. Clearly there are differences in all of these cases, but find it hard to believe if the same thing had happened to a high profile player or politician we would not have all the information.

  7. Brad. The Rose issue is not “a rumor someone told me.” It is a formal charge brought by the NCAA.Rose has acknowledged being interviewed by the NCAA in connection with the allegations.Surely we can agree that this is not a rumor.A rumor is something with no certain source and no firm basis for its assertion. The Rose situation is the product of an NCAA investigation and a handwriting analysis. The charge was put together by a team of NCAA lawyers and released in a public document.As for Chuck Hayes, it was also an official charge — filed in a court of law.I’m going to reiterate, and I’m not so sure what’s so difficult to understand. No charges have been filed against Rick Pitino. There is no formal allegation. And what allegations there are may well be, in the estimation of the FBI and a grand jury, part of a criminal act. A trial is upcoming.If you consider the Rose charge a “rumor,” even though it was clearly brought forth as the result of legal process and an investigation, then I’m afraid I can’t help you.I will give you a couple of definitions to ponder: Rumor — talk or opinion widely dissememinated with no discernible source, or a statement without known authority for its truth (and “authority” in this definition points to a worthy source).Charge — a formal assertion of illegality (or in the NCAA’s case, violation).

  8. Sorry, I should not have made a judgment on the Chuck Hays allegations, I have no way to know about what really happen in that situation.

  9. I’m sure you have more information than we know about Rose to make it more then a rumor, but the fact that he was interviewed dose not make it more than a rumor (unless he is the only person to be interviewed). I think you are a good reporter, I do not intend this as a personal attack. In an age where everything is reported and over reported (John and Kate + 8 —– John Edwards) how is something so high profile not get reported? There has to be some pressure from somewhere.

  10. Well, Brad, frankly, I think there should be more discussions like the one we’re having, and more candid ones, because I do think there are a lot of questions about why some things are reported and some are not.And honestly, I’m not the best person to answer those questions.I can tell you that this information on Rose fits no definition of “rumor” that you’ll find anywhere. It is a formal allegation. When someone takes some type of legal action (or in this case, NCAA enforcement action), it is based upon an investigation that has already taken place. It’s not just an interview that makes it more than a rumor, it’s the very investigative process, combined with the NCAA publishing its allegations and formally delivering them to Rose’s old school. That’s not a rumor. It’s a charge.That doesn’t mean the allegation is true. My goodness, I’ve seen the NCAA be about as wrong as anyone can be. (Once, in bringing an allegation against Marvin Stone, they accused him of receiving Western Union money orders from someone. But it turned out that the money orders actually were sent to a 50-year-old Marvin Stone who lived in Atlanta! Proof that every NCAA charge isn’t Gospel truth.)But ask yourself this:In all the high-profile instances you’re seeing, how many of them involve a Federal extortion charge? Extortion is one of those special areas, where the allegations themselves might (or might not, but the assumption if law enforcement and grand jury find enough to indict is that they might well be) criminal acts in and of themselves.That makes it a special situation for the media.In an extortion case, someone is accused of unlawfully using allegations as a weapon. Frankly, you don’t see many of them, and I can’t ever think of another one against a sports coach.There’s no extortion, as far as I can tell, in celebrity divorces.The National Enquirer broke the story of John Edwards’ affair, but even then, no mainstream media outlets picked it up until Edwards himself admitted his affair publicly. Later, national outlets hit the story harder when he was accused of diverting campaign money to personal use for purposes related to the affair.Leaving aside that presidential politics is a much different animal than college athletics, even in that high-profile story, the mainstream media did not pick up an explosive allegation until the candidate himself acknowledged it publicly.Anyway, that’s just a general answer to a specific question, I know, but it’s the best I can do.Thanks for the dialogue!

  11. This is a great piece top to bottom Eric. I agree with you in every way. For those who want to believe Cal had somthing to do with Roses grades or test scores should really do their homework. Look really hard at the Sun Times and other creditable sports writers…NOT BLOGGERS. Some of you guys are as emotional as teenage girl…read the facts. The Memphis basketball issue isnt really a issue for Memphis at all. If anything the Chicago Public School system or NCAA clearing house should investigate themselves. It didnt matter what school Rose went to the issue would have followed. This isnt a Cal or Memphis issue.Maybe Cal has an issue for taking top talent….but thru Memphis compliance and the NCAA Rose was cleared. I understand this is a dead time for sports…but some of you guys are just plain idiots…. Its better just to hope Kentucky doesnt bust your team by 50 this fall. Kentucky will be a beast of a team and this issue will only feed that beast…..

  12. Good article Eric, but I must agree with Brad. The CJ hast too much selective journalism. My main question, is why did the CJ post a picture of protesters supporting the accused, but cut the accused’s son out of the picture? Did it have something to do with the sign he was holding? Why would a sign about a forced abortion be edited out of the photo, or was the photo just taking up too much webspace, so the CJ decided to crop it?

  13. Eric, Thank you for the thoughtful response. I do understand and appreciate your points on this issue. In the Pitino case what I would really like to know is does the media understand how this looks to someone outside of the media. We have very little information. Right or wrong it has the appearance of: at worst a cover up and at best kid glove treatment. I am not saying that it is that bad, but it looks (with no evidence at all) that bad.Again I understand the papers position on this and it is probably correct, but it requires a Trust Me position from the reader. The trust me position always makes me nervous.

  14. Wow you're a dope Brad.In Pitino's case there is nothing to report. Nothing to report. Nothing to report.No charges have been filed against Pitino. He has done nothing wrong, so why would anyone other than dopey UK fans dig up information on him? He didn't do anything. The only person accused of wrongdoing is some sketchy old leech trying to steal millions of dollars from Pitino.Seriously, this woman is being accused of LYING TO THE FBI but you UK knuckleheads want people to treat her words as the gospel. Well sorry, reputable reporting does not include publishing every random accusation by every random nutjob that wants to cash in on a media circus or worse. If she had proof of whatever she's accusing it would have been reported. Obviously she does not have any proof, just a get rich quick scheme that backfired.Hey Brad, why don't you go to the Courier Journal and tell them you saw Pitino kicking your wife but don't have any proof. See if it gets reported. Or better yet, tell them it was Calipari. You'll get the same amount of coverage either way.

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