Memphis to NCAA: We don't know

Memphis responded to Freedom of Information Act requests today by releasing its 500-plus page response to the NCAA on allegations that former Tiger Derrick Rose cheated on his SAT.

The response, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, says the school was unable to find proof that Rose cheated on the test. Nor could I find any mention of the school offering proof that he didn’t cheat on the test. (I haven’t had a chance to look at the response, but the following is an analysis of the initial reporting on it.)

Regardless, being “unable to find proof” leaves open the final question over whether cheating took place. Memphis as far as I can see, didn’t say definitively. In fact, an early look at the reporting seems in some ways to acknowledge that he may have. Certainly it’s clear now that the result was invalidated by the testing service that administered the exam.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that the summary of the university’s argument in the document is this:

The University does not have sufficient information to conclude that (redacted) engaged in unethical conduct in regard to a (redacted) taking of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Specifically, the University has no knowledge that (redacted) did not complete the SAT entrance examination. Accordingly, the University does not know whether the information included in the allegation is substantially correct and is unable to conclude whether a violation of the cited NCAA regulations has occurred.

These phrases, “could not find,” “has no knowledge,” does not know,” “unable to conclude” do not paint the picture of an unequivocal defense of Rose. They do, however, effectively communicate the school’s assertion that it had no knowledge of any possible funny business with Rose’s SAT.

Interestingly, the report does reveal that it wasn’t the NCAA that raised initial questions about Rose’s SAT. It was the Educational Testing Service. The authority that actually administers the test informed Memphis in May of 2008 that it had canceled Rose’s test score, according to this report today on The Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s website.

The school also acknowledges that Rose, when given multiple opportunities to validate the test score with the ETS, declined to take the organization up on any of them.

That action came after Chicago Public Schools launched an investigation into Rose’s academic record (and the records of several other athletes) the previous fall.

Regardless, the main point Memphis likely emphasizes in this report is that it had no way of knowing Rose’s test score would be invalid, and that it followed all of its procedures, and NCAA procedures, correctly in approving him to play basketball.

So long as Memphis solidly establishes that point, I’d say the school moves on without significant sanction. But the full facts haven’t played out yet.

What could be possible stumbling blocks for the school? One is that it knew Rose’s academics were in question in 2007, while he was leading the team to a No. 1 ranking. While Memphis claims not to have known about problems with Rose’s ACT until after the season was over, it does acknowledge looking into a changed grade and determining that the change would have made no difference in his eligibility, according to The Associated Press.

Memphis says in its report that “it was determined that there was insufficient information to believe that (the player) had not taken the test.”

School officials will likely face pointed questions not only on whether they believed there was sufficient information to make the test legitimate. And beyond that, whether there was sufficient information to suspect the player had not taken the test.”

What a school’s obligation is if it suspects wrongdoing could become an issue here, and could become one of those little details the NCAA seizes on when considering Memphis’ level of responsibility.

A hearing on the issue, and on a separate allegation that Rose’s brother did not reimburse travel expenses incurred for him on team trips, will be held this weekend in Indianapolis. Former Memphis and current Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has not been implicated in the charges by the NCAA nor, apparently, in Memphis’ response, will take part in the hearing by telephone.

As for Calipari, the inconclusive finding might actually lead to more speculation, and investigation by independent sources. Chicago media outlets already are on the hunt to explain what kind of breakdown in the system there might have allowed something like this to happen. Still, it’d take a pretty dramatic turn of events for any of this to land at his feet in any significant, concrete way.

The Memphis report today was hardly an exoneration of Rose. It was, however, a clear statement that Memphis believes it acted within NCAA rules and guidelines in letting him play.

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10 thoughts on “Memphis to NCAA: We don't know

  1. don't you think that maybe you should have read the report instead of reporting on what other people said??? that is why this whole mess is blown out of proportion

  2. This whole affair reminds me of the court room scene of the movie A Few Good Men. The differnce is that the NCAAA or Memphis for that matter won't have the courage to force JC, Rose or anyone else to blurt out the answer "Damn right I gave the Code Red!" or in this case "38-2- Damn Right I made sure Rose was eligible." UK knowlingly got what they wanted. The #1 cheater in the game.

  3. You can bet that somebody once close to D. Rose somewhere is just pissed that they were missing out on any money so they had to start making accusations. Like a drop of water through the dam…..the media just makes it bigger and bigger and bigger. I don't blame D. Rose no matter what happened. ACT or SAT calls me and asks me to retake a test as I'm about to get out of college I'd tell them they have lost their minds. We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, right now, I doubt anybody outside the parties involved can say one way or another. So lets's stop speculating and see what happens.

  4. In reply to the 10 p.m. comment, this was a blog posted within minutes of the initial report. None of my conclusions changed after reading the entire report.If anything, UK fans completely missed the significance of Memphis being "unable to prove cheating." It doesn't meant that Rose is cleared. It means that Rose is officially ineligible. In the NCAA, it's up to the school and player to prove innocence. It's a backward way of doing things.But in the NCAA, once the NCAA rules you're ineligible, it's up to the player and school to prove his innocence. The news of Memhpis' response to the NCAA is that it couldn't prove Rose didn't cheat on his test and basically ceded the point that they were playing with an ineligible student athlete.Their defense was that they didn't know, and couldn't have known, and shouldn't have known. I say that's a good defense.In other words, the subject of this blog was dead-on.This mess has not been blown out of proportion, unless you think cheating and playing with ineligible players is no big deal. In fact, it's one of the bigger deals in college basketball.

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