If you have not heard the news, the Memphis basketball program is facing “major” allegations of fraudulent behavior that occurred during the 2007-2008 season. That season was the year that the Tigers lost the NCAA final in a heartbreaking loss to Kansas, and if the charges prove to be true, the entire season will be wiped from the record books.
The allegations are that someone took an SAT test for a Memphis recruit (widely presumed to be Derrick Rose, Memphis’ star one-and-done player that year).
This is obviously a major violation and the basketball community could see incredible sanctions placed on the Memphis program as well as John Calipari, who left Memphis to take the Kentucky job during the off-season.
The fact that Calipari is now in Lexington creates an interesting dynamic to the story. First, Memphis was notified of an investigation back in January while Calipari was still the head coach of the Tigers. There is absolutely no doubt that the possible sanctions that could be placed on Memphis pushed him even further towards accepting the Kentucky job.
Calipari and Kentucky have both said that they will not face any penalties from this investigation because they had no control over whether or not Rose cheated on the SAT. But as the investigation continues there is always the chance there is one sliver of evidence connecting Calipari to the scandal.
If that were to occur, Kentucky would immediately find themselves under penalty, much like how Kelvin Sampson was at Indiana after leaving a recruiting mess in Oklahoma (although he continued to break those sanctions). This will be interesting as Calipari managed to bring in one of the top recruiting classes in the country to Kentucky with DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Daniel Orton, and Eric Bledsoe topping the six player class.
Likely if any allegations were to occur against Calipari, Kentucky will keep him because of the amount of excitement and exposure he has brought Kentucky since his hire. Kentucky seems to be at the stage where they will win at all costs in hope of reclaiming the glory days, with this recruiting class they realize Calipari is the quickest way to achieve that, despite his past.
The charges made against Memphis and possibly taking away the 2007-2008 run to the title will also be similar to Calipari at Massachusetts when they had their Final Four run wiped away because of Marcus Camby (similar to Rose in that he was the team’s best player and largely responsible for the tournament run).
I was just fascinated with the news when it broke, there are a lot of angles to the story. As passes I’m sure there will be more information coming out that could completely change the paths of two major basketball programs.
Here’s a link to an ESPN story where Memphis A.D. R.C. Johnson defends the school.
The link also has a video where Pat Forde discusses the legacy of Calipari and raises an interesting point on how this could change the 19-year-old the NBA has.