NCAA's Eric Bledsoe Conundrum: Matter Dropped, Larger Issues Linger

Mike KlineAnalyst IOctober 3, 2010

Eric Bledsoe (right) had his high school transcript investigated after a grade was changed from a C to an A without explaination.
Eric Bledsoe (right) had his high school transcript investigated after a grade was changed from a C to an A without explaination.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Former Kentucky Basketball player Eric Bledsoe whose high school transcript has been scrutinized for potential grade tampering, will not cost the university or coach John Calipari any wins.

The Birmingham school board announced last week that it wasn't going to change any of his grades which had been questioned when an Algebra III class grade was inexplicably changed from a C to an A.

A law firm conducting a review of Bledsoe's transcript found the anomaly, but once the issue was ruled a non-issue by the school board the NCAA, which stood ready to pounce on yet another Calipari programbacked off any potential sanctions or penalties.

This provided a deep sigh of relief undoubtedly for Kentucky, but more so for Calipari who has had two seasons at two different schools vacated for NCAA violations, the most recent at his previous stint at Memphis.

There Calipari, supposedly had no knowledge or involvement in former point guard Derek Rose's falsified SAT score. That scandal cost Memphis its best record in school history and a Final Four to its name as well as just a bit of embarrassment for Rose. It cost Calipari nothing.

With the Bledsoe issue resolved, more questions are being asked regarding not only Calipari, but the NCAA as a whole.

It is naive to believe college athletics are still the bastion of amateurism it was in the days when Harvard won college football championships, but the idea that a student-athlete still has an obligation to the school should not be lost.

The problem is that under the current one-and-done rule, players with little to no interest in college are being forced to play the role of a student, which is potentially costing colleges their academic reputations.

Kentucky received much criticism when its basketball team had one of the lowest combined grade-point averages in all of college basketball.

No one lost more talent after last season than the Wildcats, and they are certainly not alone when it comes to the slippery slope of weighing having a winning program versus academic success.

It happens all the time in college football. North Carolina is in the midst of its worse athletic scandal since the days of the  Frank McGuire point shaving scandals in basketball.

They are facing tough questions regarding agents and if that wasn't bad enough academic fraud allegations, which at North Carolina who prides itself in being one of the finest academic institutions, is embarrassing.

The NCAA has found itself at a cross roads and has been probing institutions at an unprecedented level. They are certainly feeling the heat considering in the case of Bledsoe, they cleared him, as well as every other player in college, to be academically eligible.

No one likes getting the wool pulled over their eyes, but in the case of the NCAA its eyes clearly have been covered for some time.

After allowing years of violations to go unchecked they are now trying to come out swinging. The problem is there is so much going on it is virtually impossible to coral it all.

One has to wonder if they are even interested in stopping it considering how much the institution makes as a regard of these athletes' prowess on the fields and courts across the nation.

ESPN's Jay Bilas has even gone as far as to say the NCAA should get out of the academic clearing process.

Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams has suggested paying players, while others have long suggested letting players get jobs.

The solutions are as controversial as they are many. And like the steroid era in baseball no program and no player is above suspicion or reproach.

Unfortunately the days of the student-athletes are all but dead except for programs in the Ivy League and the military academies.

The schools and coaches make millions off the blood and sweat of the player, and are pressured to get the best players at almost any cost.

Once upon a time players were considered to be rewarded with a free education, but as the dynamic of athletics and society have changed, and athletes look to take their skills to the next level, the focus is more on becoming as good as you can be on the court or field rather than the classroom.

College is a stepping stone for the best athletes on their way to the pros and everyone knows it. There is no going back and no one wants to agree on a solution to cut the corruption that runs rampant through college athletics.

Players like Bledsoe may or may not be eligible and whether you can find the documentation of wrong doing or not will determine the end result.

Common sense is dead in this regard. It would otherwise tell you that something is up if a player goes from a C to an A in a class which has a prerequisite that hasn't even been taken. But because there is no documentation of why the grade was changed everything is clear and good.

That is about as ridiculous as allowing the institutions to make money off these kids but not letting them hold a job in the off season.

There is only one things that the NCAA should focus on and that is maintaining the integrity of the  institution of college. Pay the kids or not, at least make them go to class and pass those classes. Otherwise let them go pro and cut the charade which players like Bledsoe and Rose among others have represented.