It was announced today that Memphis will have to vacate all 38 wins from their 2007-08 season because a player was ineligible.
First and foremost, I don’t believe in vacating wins. You can’t go back in time and say, “that game never happened.”
You can’t erase or alter the memories of every person that watched a vacated game.
I was critical of the practice of vacating wins in a past article, mostly in regards to the current situation involving Bobby Bowden and Florida State, albeit for different reasons. But my opinion remains the same—you can’t say a win didn’t happen.
If you want to punish a team for playing an ineligible player, however, there is something you can do: only discount the statistics of the guilty party. That’s right. Punish the player—not the team.
In the situation of Memphis, the offender is likely one and done point guard Derrick Rose.
So what would happen, ideally, is Rose’s statistics from individual games would be vacated. If Memphis still had their lead after removing all points scored by Rose, by all means, let Memphis keep the victory. If not, vacate it and alter the records accordingly.
Having looked through both the results of the 2007-08 season and Rose’s game-by-game totals, vacating his points alone, Memphis would have gone 19-14 and lost in the second round of the C-USA tournament to Southern Miss, likely missing the actual NCAA tournament.
In this scenario, the other 11 members of that team get to keep their stats and the wins they fought hard for, and Rose is the only one to suffer. There would be no need to further sanction the program, especially considering both Rose and Coach John Calipari are no longer at Memphis.
If anything, this shows Memphis was a good enough team last year to win 19 games without even needing Rose. So why vacate all 38 wins when vacating half makes more sense?