NCAA Shows Double-Standard in Dealing with Memphis Basketball

Leroy Watson Jr.Senior Writer IDecember 6, 2009

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. . .

The University of Memphis wins 38 games during the 2007-08 season, and over a full year after that season started, the NCAA decides that the team had used an ineligible player.

Of course, said player—okay, it was Derrick Rose, I’m not going to pretend that we don’t know who it was—had been ruled eligible to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Phone calls by Memphis to the NCAA had verified that Rose was fine to play.

Nevertheless, almost two years after the fact, the NCAA decides to wipe the season (including an appearance in the NCAA Tournament title game) from the record books.

The NCAA just wants everyone to act as if little ole Memphis never crashed the biggest party of the year, March Madness, with their rampage to the title game.

Chris Douglas-Roberts was never a three-pointer by Mario Chalmers away from reaching his ultimate collegiate goal.

Joey Dorsey never punked out Kevin Love.

Derrick Rose never proved himself to be one of the most spectacular point guards in the country, professional or otherwise.

None of it ever happened.

Rose had been ineligible to play for the Memphis Tigers because his SAT scores were invalidated by the testing agency that oversaw his examination...nearly one year after the fact.

Apparently, Rose had the unmitigated gall to ignore requests to reply to the inquiry by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), even though said letters were sent to his home address in Chicago, not to his address at the University of Memphis.


I wonder if he ever got those letters?

So, as Rose was dazzling the world with his scintillating performances in the NCAA Tournament, he was (unbeknown to the wunderkind or the school) having his SATs wiped out.

Without the standardized test scores, the lad was ineligible.

Okay, so all of that is understandable.

What is unconscionable, though, is the NCAA’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the University of Memphis in the aftermath of this fiasco.

In an earlier article , I expressed my dismay with the U of M, and their lack of action in dealing with the entire Derrick Rose situation.

I’m going to have to backtrack from that just a bit.

In October 2007, on the eve of Rose’s freshman campaign, it came to the attention of the U of M that there was a grade change during his high school days which potentially impacted the point guard’s eligibility.

ETS had not yet flagged Rose’s SAT status at that time.

So follow me here for a moment:

Rose had already been deemed eligible to play ball by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

When the grade change issue arose, the U of M hastily contacted the NCAA, and after a brief investigation, Rose was cleared by the NCAA once again.

How was the school supposed to know about the impending SAT problem. . . months ahead of time?

Was the University of Memphis supposed to go through the entire eligibility process again, and somehow divine that there were issues over who took Rose’s test?

And before you insult my intelligence by saying, “Of course the school should have done that,” answer me this: just what, exactly, is the job of the NCAA Clearinghouse if NCAA institutions are supposed to follow behind them and re-qualify their student-athletes?

That’s really why I have come to re-examine my own position during this scandal.

The NCAA has put Memphis in an untenable double blind.

The school was told not once, but twice, that Rose was cleared to play.

And now, more than two years later, the NCAA essentially says, “We dropped the ball here. Rose should never have played. Since you didn’t catch our error, you’ve got to pay the price and forfeit the results of the season.”

And just what color is the sun in your solar system, NCAA?

As despicable as that scenario is, it gets even worse. The U of M, naturally, appealed the severity of the penalties. After all, what’s the use of an appeals process if a school cannot avail themselves of it?

Except the NCAA really must not want Memphis to bother them with this nonsense.

Isn’t that the message being sent? The NCAA has essentially said that if Memphis persists in its appeal, that the case could be re-opened and (ostensibly) even worse punishment could result!

People, that’s akin to a company directing an employee to act in a certain way, later suspending said employee for doing what he was told, and insinuating that the person could be fired if he dared to report the indiscretion to Human Resources.

In other words: bend over, shut up, and take it.

In stark contrast, however, consider this:

The Memphis ex-head coach, John Calipari, was immediately cleared of any responsibility in this case. Is it a coincidence that his current address is Lexington, Ky.?

The University of Southern California had a freshman you might have heard of in 2007-’08.

Kid by the name of O. J. Mayo playing in the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies right now, and if it weren’t for Rose, he quite probably would have been NBA Rookie of the Year.

It has been established that former USC head man Tim Floyd paid Mayo $1,000 on at least one occasion. Floyd was subsequently fired by the school.

Under the insipid theory of “strict liability” that the NCAA has been spouting, Mayo should have been retroactively ruled ineligible, right? And wouldn’t that mean that USC would have to vacate their NCAA Tournament appearance from that season, as well?

None of that happened.

What I’m getting at is simple: Kentucky, the winningest men’s basketball program of all-time and a member of the Southeastern Conference, and USC of the PAC-10, each plays by a different set of rules than Memphis of Conference USA.

Really, remove the name “Memphis” and replace it with “Gonzaga,” “Boise State,” “Xavier,” or any other team from a so-called mid-major conference, and the result would likely be the same.

You see, the NCAA says that they want to send the message that there will be punishment meted out to member schools which play ineligibles.

What they really mean is they want to show the “have nots” that they won’t be afforded the privileges of the “haves.”


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