With all of the Pro-John Calipari vs. Anti-John Calipari talk that will surround this Eric Bledsoe story in the coming days, I only felt bad for one person.
The New York Times is reporting the NCAA is looking into Bledsoe's high school career in Alabama. The NCAA wants to know how his grades improved in one year so he could qualify to play at Kentucky.
A second allegation is that Maurice Ford, Bledsoe's high school coach, paid his family's rent for a certain time. The Times and the Birmingham News is reporting that a number of NCAA investigators have been interviewing people connected to Bledsoe during his high school days.
I felt bad because Bledsoe is the biggest victim in all of this.
Bledsoe is a victim of the system. And no, it is not because he is black. It is because he wanted to play big-time college basketball and, eventually, go play in the NBA.
I felt bad because the system told him that he needed to have a certain grade point average to go to college, a place he probably did not want to go.
He wanted to play ball and go to the NBA. But it benefits the NBA and the NCAA for these players to spend one year in college.
I felt bad because the NCAA Clearinghouse, the organization designed to accurately determine if a student-athlete meets qualifications, failed to catch the sudden improvement in his grades that allowed Bledsoe to qualify.
I felt bad because his college coach is guilty of one of three things:
A. incompetence (failure to know any of this was going on)
B. looking the other way (Calipari should have known, but did not want to know anything)
C. knowing everything when he signed Bledsoe
We have seen this movie before at every school Calipari has been a head coach. We have seen it so often that we can predict the next line in the script.
UMass fan said: "Marcus Camby was the one who signed with an agent. Coach Cal did not do anything." UMass had its Final Four run vacated.
Memphis fan said: "Derrick Rose had someone take his SAT exam for him. Coach Cal did not do anything." Until he left for Kentucky, now he is taking all of the blame. Memphis had its Final Four run vacated.
Today, Kentucky fans can say: "Eric Bledsoe and his family had their rent paid by his high school coach. The NCAA is looking at Eric Bledsoe's high school grades. Everything was fine at Kentucky. Coach Cal did not do anything."
Does Kentucky honestly believe, if even some of these charges are true, that the NCAA will not vacate its 35-win season in 2009-10?
I felt bad that fans are so willing to throw a former player overboard to save face and salvage their program's integrity.
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