One month before Derrick Rose was to enroll at Memphis, he had not yet passed his standardized test.
He had tried three times. He had failed three times.
Can you imagine the mood in the Memphis basketball offices over this? Can you imagine the mood of head coach John Calipari?
Rose was a phenom, a sensation, the best player Calipari had ever recruited.
With Rose at point guard, Calipari could get to the Final Four and maybe win his first NCAA Championship. Without Rose at point guard, he would surely fall short.
On May 5, 2007, with all this at stake, someone — the Educational Testing Service has concluded it wasn’t Derrick Rose — showed up at a test center in Detroit to take Rose’s SAT.
Rose lived in Chicago, mind you. He traveled to Detroit to watch an NBA playoff game and — doesn’t everyone do this? — take the SAT.
Care to guess what significant friend of Calipari’s has deep connections in Detroit?
William Wesley a.k.a. Worldwide Wes, the most mysterious and connected man in college basketball.
So if you think Calipari didn’t know how his star player qualified to play basketball at Memphis, I have a 2007-08 Final Four banner I’d like to sell you.
Of course he knew. He absolutely knew.
This is a coach who knew the name of the fan who won a big-screen TV in a promotion in FedExForum’s upper deck.
You think he didn’t know how Rose, on the brink of losing his eligibility at Memphis, planned to pass his standardized test?
You think he just told Rose to remember to sharpen his pencils and work on his vocabulary? You think he told him he might have a clearer head if he took the test in a strange place?
Calipari knew that Rose cheated on his SAT. He may well have set it up himself.
The fact that the NCAA didn’t go ahead and connect these dots in its decision Wednesday Thursday doesn’t mean that the rest of us can pretend they don’t exist.
This isn’t about selective enforcement or anything else. This isn’t about some vendetta against Memphis or Calipari.
This is about a basketball program that ran off the rails and a university that — for whatever reason -— is still unwilling to face up to it.
“We will appeal the NCAA’s decision,” said UofM president Shirley Raines, piling worse news on top of bad.
Appeal the NCAA’s decision? When anyone with a brain can see what happened here?
Memphis cheated. Memphis got caught.
What exactly is there to appeal?
Oh, I know, there’s the whole “strict liability” debate. The more desperate among you will latch onto that.
According to this popular theory, Memphis should not be punished because Memphis officials didn’t know that Rose cheated.
The NCAA says Memphis didn’t have to know.
“It’s a matter of strict liability,” said Paul Dee, the chairman of the infractions committee, who may or may not be right.
This is what the Memphis appeal will be about. This will be thoroughly briefed.
But it’s academic, isn’t it? If you’re being honest with yourself?
Rose didn’t pass his test when he was a junior in high school, when Memphis was one of several schools recruiting him.
He passed it a month before he enrolled at Memphis. He passed it on May 5, in a strange city, in handwriting that did not match his own.
So Raines and Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson can sit there — as they did Thursday — and say they’re confident Rose took the test himself.
But is anyone else in this universe confident? Including Rose?
He declined to cooperate with the NCAA investigation because, well, why would he?
He never wanted to go to college in the first place. He did what he had to do to get in. If college basketball looks even more fraudulent today than yesterday, is that really his fault?
As for Calipari, he spent the day twittering away about the usual stuff.
“Had a great tour of The Mercantile Gallery Lofts in downtown Louisville,” he tweeted.
And: “Also met w/ Matt Thorton of Thorton convenience stores.”
The man is shameless, isn’t he? He has already vacated his Memphis years.
But as long as he coaches, he’ll never be able to erase Thursday’s inescapable truth.
Rose may be the one who cheated — but Calipari knew.
Source: Memphis Commercial-Appeal
My Thoughts: Those are some pretty strong allegations from Mr. Calkins. If he is incorrect, I have a slander lawsuit I'd like to sell you.