NCAA Gets Change Out Of Kentucky, But Will It Go After The Rest?Posted by jstevrtc on June 17th, 2011
On Thursday, the University of Kentucky issued a statement claiming that it was in error in celebrating John Calipari’s 500th win on February 26 after beating Florida, and that in future media guides and any published material it would depict Calipari’s career win total with the vacated wins from his time at Memphis and Massachusetts subtracted.
Here’s what happened. At the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Kentucky considered Calipari to have logged 480 wins (vacated wins not removed), while the NCAA officially listed him with 438 (42 wins removed). The NCAA evidently considered it to be a slap in the face when Kentucky had its small post-game display to mark what UK considered Cal’s 500th win on February 26, as well as the fact that its media guides and website ignored the NCAA’s removal of the wins from Calipari’s record. It asked UK to change it and alert the media that the celebration of Calipari’s 500th was erroneous. Kentucky’s compliance office responded to the NCAA, but they were unmoved and sent another missive, again pressing for the change. And the reason the NCAA knew about this and went down this road was…a tip from a fan of a rival program.
[Ed. Note: You can read the correspondence between the NCAA and Kentucky here. It's pretty interesting. And we're not sure how Lexington Herald-Leader sportswriter Jerry Tipton could ever comfortably show his face in Lexington again.]
This was the right move by Kentucky. It wouldn’t make any sense for the program to go out of its way to position itself on the NCAA’s bad side, and 42 wins is simply too small a prize to justify the continued poking of that bear. At some point John Calipari will move on and either coach somewhere else or retire. Kentucky won’t care how many wins John Calipari has then, but we guarantee the NCAA would remember it if Kentucky decided to openly defy them. As we all know, the NCAA is still judge, jury and executioner in this biz, and if anything should come up in the future, you’d rather they have a more favorable opinion of you. Kentucky noted the error, didn’t apologize — one really wasn’t warranted, though it sounds like that’s what the NCAA wanted — but promised to make the adjustment the NCAA asked for. And let’s be honest — if those are the rules everyone has to play by, then justice really was done here.
But are those everyone’s rules? The NCAA has set an interesting precedent here, and one that might increase the summer workloads of the members of the Committee On Infractions. There are several coaches who have had wins vacated who are still coaching college basketball. This mandate from the NCAA at the expense of John Calipari’s career wins total got us wondering…what do the basketball media guides of programs currently employing coaches who have had wins vacated in the past say about their win totals and prior performace?
Here are a few examples we found:
Todd Bozeman got bludgeoned with an eight year show-cause by the NCAA after the Jelani Gardner scandal at California. In his four seasons as head coach of the Bears, he led Cal to a 63-35 record. After the school was forced to forfeit and vacate a total of 28 wins (all of 1994-95 and all but two wins from 1995-96), that changed his record to 35-63 at California, according to the NCAA. He has 102 wins since taking over at Morgan State in 2006, so that would give him 137 total wins in the NCAA’s eyes. In the most recent version of the Morgan State men’s hoops media guide, however, there’s this (relevant portion at right):
The NCAA would argue that Bozeman led Cal to two NCAA Tournaments in four years, not three, since the 1996 appearance was vacated. And since Morgan State’s media guide purports his record at California to be 63-35, if the NCAA is to be consistent, we assume they’ll be sending a letter to MSU’s media relations folks telling them that they had better correct this error.
Without removing the vacated wins, Bozeman should have had 148 wins to start the 2010-11 season (when the media guide was published) — 165 minus the 17 victories from this season. The NCAA would have that number at 120. Again, from their media guide, here’s a list of Bozeman’s record against all opponents:
Note the overall record at the bottom right. 148 wins, not 120.
An even more interesting example is that of San Diego State and Steve Fisher. While at Michigan, because of the whole Ed Martin/Chris Webber/Robert Traylor/Louis Bullock mess, Fisher had a total of 77 wins negated — one win from the 1992 Final Four, 31 wins from the 1992-93 season, and a total of 45 wins from the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons — as well as their runner-up status from both the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Tournaments. If you didn’t subtract those, he’d have 416 wins. If you did, he’d have 339. His excellent Aztec squad from this most recent season won 34 games, which means Fisher crossed the (evidently unofficial) 400-win mark in 2010-11, an occasion noted by both the school and the Mountain West Conference.
If they’re really interested in quelling these little uprisings, the NCAA might also want to examine this photo from page 2 of the SDSU media guide from this past year:
The problem here is that, if Michigan’s NCAA Tournament appearances from 1993 and 1996 were both vacated, Fisher hasn’t made ten trips to the NCAA, but eight. He doesn’t have three Final Fours, but just two. With three vacated post-season appearances at UM, he has 13, not 16, of those in his career. And he would have 305 (not 382) wins to start the season, as it indicates there, making the passing of the 400-win milestone during the 2010-11 campaign quite difficult.
This isn’t the only example of this in the SDSU guide, though. Here are a couple more references to Fisher’s career at UM. This first one contains a summary of Fisher’s Michigan days as if no vacations were ordered (see left):
And we think the NCAA wouldn’t exactly approve of the vagueness in the footnote at the bottom of this year-by-year breakdown of Fisher’s career:
As you can see, the SDSU media guide credits Fisher with ALL of his wins at Michigan, with the footnote adding that NCAA “no longer acknowledges those contests,” meaning games from “the 1992-99 time period.” It says that the NCAA therefore “lists Steve Fisher’s career coaching record differently” without actually including the NCAA’s version of his number of career wins or even how many were vacated. Was this method of documenting the NCAA’s sanctions made available for Kentucky? If you click on the above link to the SDSU media guide and read the Fisher bio, there are multiple references to Fisher’s successful career as a Wolverine. We’re not saying it wasn’t — the man won a title, for cryin’ out loud — but the bio talks about Fisher’s time in Ann Arbor as if the NCAA had never heard of Michigan, including several mentions of win totals and post-season appearances, as well as players that the Michigan program can’t even associate itself with for another two years.
Another active coach with a history of vacated wins is current Florida Atlantic boss Mike Jarvis. The FAU media guide released at the beginning of the 2010-11 season makes no mention of Jarvis’ career coaching record, but among his accomplishments it lists his five NIT wins and the 2003 NIT title at St. John’s:
The NCAA would disagree with this summary of Jarvis’ achievements, since his St. John’s teams were forced to vacate their 2002 NCAA Tournament appearance, their 2003 NIT championship, and a total of 43 wins over that time period because of the Abe Keita scandal. The NCAA would therefore have him with eight NCAAs, four NITs, and zero NIT titles or victories. He would still have seven NCAA Tournament wins because in that vacated 2002 appearance, they lost their first round game.
These are just three examples that we looked up. By our count, there are 38 coaches in the history of NCAA basketball who have had wins vacated. Whether active coaches or not, do all of the media guides (or websites, or any other published material) at their respective institutions properly document the vacated seasons and wins? The NCAA now has to clean up as many “infractions” of this nature as it can and follow every lead it will get from rival fans of various schools, lest it look like it has it out only for Kentucky and, more likely, John Calipari. And we haven’t even considered examples from other sports. We’re betting that a great number of enterprising football fans from across the nation have taken to their computers, each on a mission to pull up the most recent media guide of their most hated rival whose coach has had wins and/or bowl appearances vacated in the past, praying there’s an example of suspect documentation they can forward on to the NCAA.
A final note to SDSU, FAU, and Morgan State fans: we didn’t pick on your current coaches because we have some problem with them or with your programs. They’re just examples involving active coaches with histories of vacated wins that we looked up. We’ve had positive interactions with each of the gentlemen mentioned in the examples, so please don’t think we set out to harm them or their career records. Sheathe your swords.
The next move belongs to the NCAA, and it’s going to be fun to see how many athletic departments they go after because of stuff like this. They sort of have to, now. We also wonder if, with all the journalists creeping around the Kentucky program looking for something they can find to nail John Calipari with, any of them will use their resources to discover the identity of the dime-dropping Kentucky hater who started this whole thing.