The Bledsoe Ordeal Is OverPosted by jstevrtc on September 25th, 2010
Earlier today the independent law firm investigating the question of Eric Bledsoe’s eligibility at Kentucky last season turned in its final report on the issue. By this time, you likely know why this was being done; Bledsoe’s high school transcript said he got two As in a pair of classes, but the grade reports said that he got a C and a B, and the improvement put him over the top in terms of eligibility to play basketball at UK. You can see the report here, but here’s what you really need to know: the Birmingham school board isn’t issuing Bledsoe a revised high school transcript, which means he keeps the As in those classes. Which means Bledsoe was and will always be considered eligible to have played at Kentucky.
The whole ordeal should serve as a reminder that, in any investigation, it’s not what happened that matters. What matters is what you can prove.
You might assume that because the grades aren’t being changed that there was no impropriety found. Well, hold on a sec. The investigating firm found that the teacher of those classes felt the aforementioned grade boost was justified because of “make-up work” that Bledsoe did, a claim that the investigators found to be “not credible.” The school board — who hired the investigating law firm, it should be noted — gave no weight to that opinion, in effect saying that no matter where the circumstantial evidence seems to be leading, it still doesn’t constitute solid proof of anything dishonest having been done involving Bledsoe’s grades. The superintendent of schools in Birmingham, Craig Witherspoon, summed it all up by saying that the investigators found no evidence that would justify such a grade change — but that they also didn’t unearth any evidence that would prove it as having been improper.
The independent investigators stood almost no chance of ever finding indisputable proof of a dishonest grade change, since this could only have come in the form of a confession from somebody, or an exhumed e-mail sent from one supposedly deceitful instructor or administrator to another, or something like that. And even if the law firm had found some actual incriminating stuff, what really would have mattered is how much stock the school board would have put into it. If the school board didn’t believe it (or didn’t want to believe it, or never had any intention of believing it), they could have just dismissed it. To the board’s collective eye, this investigation found some — heh heh — interesting things, but still presented no hard evidence that would justify a new transcript for Eric Bledsoe. The transcript that Bledsoe gave to the NCAA’s Eligibility Center before he started at Kentucky will not be changed or replaced. And, as the linked report from ESPN’s Andy Katz points out, the NCAA would need a new transcript to reverse its prior ruling of Bledsoe having been initially eligible. Ballgame.
Now, the John Calipari-haters will certainly cry foul, and Wildcat supporters will most assuredly rejoice. To be honest, both sides have good reasons to feel the way they do. The investigators and the school board agree that something was found, but couldn’t prove it despite how it looks. The anti-Caliparians will wonder how the NCAA can hear this but still not hand out punishments. The Big Blue Nation will be happy that they get to keep those 35 wins from last season and that Kentucky is still on top of the all-time wins list. That’s worth celebrating, but still — and we’re usually reluctant to hand out such advice — we’d advise our readers in the BBN to feel more relief than victory right now. Nobody won anything, here. If you’re a Kentucky fan, it’s just that you didn’t lose. To feel a sense of victory over this would be like feeling happy after walking up the driveway to the house where you and your wife live and seeing a smiling, shady-looking milkman coming out the front door. In all probability (hopefully) there’s no direct proof of what may have just happened — but we bet that wouldn’t make you feel any better.