Don’t Forget about Bruce Pearl’s Former Tennessee Assistants

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 30th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Show-cause penalties are permanent stains on a coach’s resume. They don’t expressly prohibit coaches from moving on to a different program, but they do make it exceedingly hard for any such programs to even stomach the thought of hiring violators by (1) transferring that coach’s sanctions from his former job to any new position he may inherit, and (2) forcing the prospective new employer to stand in front of the NCAA’s infraction committee and explain its motives for making the hire. They must, in effect, “show cause” for hiring the equivalent of a modern-day coaching pariah. Basically, If you’re show-caused, don’t expect to re-enter the coaching profession until the penalty expires.

the carnage left in the wake of Pearl's NCAA bombshell, which diverges from his favorable post-scandal employment, is often overlooked (AP Photo).

the carnage left in the wake of Pearl’s NCAA bombshell, which diverges from his favorable post-scandal employment, is often overlooked (AP Photo).

For former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl – who was issued a three-year show-cause penalty for attempting to cover-up the barbeque he used to host then-high school junior Aaron Craft and members of his family – that expiration date comes in 2014, when he is widely expected to re-enter the coaching ranks after enjoying a multi-year stint with ESPN’s college basketball studio analysis team. Pearl wasn’t the only one penalized for his recruiting violations; three of his former assistants (Tony Jones, Steve Forbes, and Jason Shay) were also hit with one-year show-causes. Their comparatively low-profile status didn’t afford them the solace of a big-time TV job – a luxury Pearl, with his vibrant personality and witty commentary, was readily granted – which forced them to navigate the unforgiving coaching job market with one of the biggest black marks any job-seeking coach can carry. Pearl may have gotten the harshest punishment, but his dismissal landed him in a job (and, presumably, with a salary) most any fired Division I coach would jump at. His assistants weren’t quite so lucky. Pearl’s backup plan involved fame and fortune; his assistants’ fell into coaching purgatory. The comfortable and financially stable lives they once led were thrown into sharp distress.

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The Darrell Williams Assault Case: A Feel-Good Story Gone Wrong

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 19th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The latest development in the Darrell Williams sexual assault case snuck under the national college hoops news radar Thursday afternoon, with word breaking that Williams filed a notice to appeal his recent sentence and conviction. In a long legal battle with numerous twists, turns and hot-button issues, including accusations of racial bias and prejudiced legislative procedures, Williams’ most recent defensive measure is only the tip of the iceberg. The story goes back to December 2010, when Williams, a member of the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team, was accused of fondling and making unsolicited sexual advances on two women at a house party. He was later convicted on two counts of rape and remained in jail until receiving a suspended sentence last week. The incident reportedly took place in the basement, but Williams claimed he has no recollection of any interactions in the specified room. He went on to question the merits of the allegations, and raised the possibility that he had been misidentified among several others at the party wearing OSU athletic apparel. The lack of physical evidence and the very real possibility of a false accusation invited skepticism and doubt over the validity of the women’s allegations. But the real rub surrounded the process by which Williams was identified. Immediately following the party, the women wrote an anonymous letter to various media outlets providing a brief description of the assault, but failed to specify an attacker. According to testimony, the women – one of whom already knew Williams from seeing him play – pointed Williams out three days after the alleged crime when Stillwater police showed them a photo of the entire OSU basketball team.

After receiving a suspended sentence, Williams remains in courtroom limbo as he prepares to file an appeal (Photo credit: US Presswire).

That pretty much wrapped things up. Williams was locked up on questionable testimony, with little in the way of actual hard evidence, and a tenuous if vague account of what actually happened. That was all the prosecution needed. The possibility remains that Williams will win his appeal and clear his name, but clinging to hopes that a typically rigid legal system will provide vindication is a foreboding proposition. Williams has maintained his innocence throughout the process, but barring a successful ruling on his requisition, he will have to register as a sex offender. A coalition of fans and media members have rallied around Williams’ cause, springing a Facebook group and donning “Free Darrell 25” (a reference to his number at OSU) t-shirts at Friday’s hearing. This would not be the first time the legal process committed an egregious misstep. False accusations — whether through error or vendetta — happen all the time, and there are plenty more that are never brought to light. It is difficult to say whether miscalculated courtroom procedure is at work here, or if Williams was simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. When you pack 80 people into a house party, with many large athletes crammed into the same suffocated space, parsing the truth from the specious – particularly if alcohol is involved, which is a reasonable assumption at collegiate social gatherings like this – is never easy.

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The Court of Public Opinion Has Reached A Consensus On Nerlens Noel and Lance Thomas

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 2nd, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

In today’s college hoops landscape, where impermissible benefits scandals are widespread and recruiting at elite programs is synonymous with agents, boosters and other money-wielding nefarious third parties, first impressions are the only ones that matter. The smallest hint of violation or prohibited activity spawns a massive rush to judgment, and a public consensus is reached before the alleged ever has a chance to prove their innocence. There’s a confirmation bias at work here, one borne of the outwardly seedy atmosphere hovering over the sport of late. Players are deemed outlaws, whether fairly or otherwise, before administrative procedures run their course. It’s not at all fair, or just, but until the NCAA or some other higher power steps in to clean up recruiting tactics and minimize the influence of illicit financial intermediaries – or at least imposes stricter policies that work towards those ends – suspicion and rapidly-conceived conclusions will remain the norm. It’s gotten to the point where procedural due process has lost credibility: The culture surrounding college basketball, not the actual terms of violation (or lack thereof), or the players themselves, has produced a general skepticism and mistrust about the behind-the-scenes work that keeps elite programs afloat.

The assumption of guilt exists with Noel and his recruitment, an opinion fueled by college hoops’ overhanging stigma of scandal and violations (Photo credit: US Presswire).

This nearsighted logic is applied without restraint to the recruitment of one-and-done high school players. Kentucky’s John Calipari, clean recruiting track record aside, has assumed an air of suspicion in regards to his prospect-hunting tactics. Whether it’s the annual success he’s established and sustained on the recruiting trail – it’s almost a surprise when Calipari doesn’t reel in the top class in the country – or the overwhelming hatred of the NBA age limit, the one-and-done system and the way Calipari has maneuvered it to perfection, or a simple jealous aversion to the regional and national dominance of Kentucky during his tenure, Calipari’s recruiting exploits (and the fruits thereof) are received with trepidation. It’s not just fans. The perception exists among an overwhelming majority of college coaches, too. Calipari’s latest recruiting gem, 2012 big man Nerlens Noel, provided some perspective over the weekend on the pervasive angst opposing coaches harbor against the Kentucky coach’s top prospects. Sports Illustrated got some insight from Noel, along with a handful of other elite recruits (such as 2013 forward Julius Randle and Kansas commit Brannen Greene), about the oft-discussed topic of negative recruiting, whereby coaches bad-mouth competing programs in an attempt to dissuade their target from attending those programs. It’s foul, indecent and a clear low-blow. But it’s out there. And coaches, particularly desperate ones, use the gambit to strengthen their case while blasting their competitors. But for Noel, the ruse backfired. When one anonymous coach implied Noel’s recruiting process was financially-intertwined, the Tilton (NH) product was downright insulted.

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NCAA Investigation Into Saint Mary’s Shows Incentives the Same Regardless of Program Size

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 24th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The list of power-conference athletic programs that have committed recruiting violations is long and wide-ranging. Just in the past five years, we’ve seen Connecticut men’s basketball, Ohio State football, Baylor men’s basketball, Oregon football, USC football and men’s basketball – among many other notable big-time programs – either accused or charged with breaking the NCAA’s strict recruiting codes. These brand-name programs are often hit with crippling sanctions that not only restrict competitive potential, but stain nationally-renowned schools with the stigma of cheat, deceit and fraud. Sometimes, as was the case with USC hoops, there are one or two rogue athletes responsible for their programs’ reckoning. For others it’s a problem embedded within the institution. SMU’s pay-for-play football setup, revealed to the masses more than a quarter century ago, underscores the latter. Still, there is a common denominator at play here. These scandals become national stories, all of them, because of the institutions at which they occur and the negative ripple effects the violations threaten to generate. When news broke of OSU’s “tattoos-for-swag” arrangement, it was the job status of former coach Jim Tressel and the speculation over his replacement that stole back-page headlines. The violations were compelling in and of themselves, but the national appeal stemmed from the long-term implications on the Buckeyes, a legendary, if iconic, football program.

Under Bennett, and thanks to an unusual influx of Australian talent, the Gaels have risen to the upper levels of mid-major competition (Photo credit: Jason O. Watson/US Presswire).

The media attention these stories capture obscures the true breadth and reach of illicit recruiting behavior: NCAA violations, viewed by the layperson through a prism of high-major perpetration, extending to the mid-major ranks. We got the latest example over the weekend courtesy of ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, who reported that the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball program has been subject of an NCAA investigation over the past year for potential recruiting violations. The focus of the investigation remains a mystery, though sources confirmed to Katz that David Patrick, a former Saint Mary’s assistant who was instrumental in the recruitment of several Australian players to the program (most notably Patty Mills), has spoken with NCAA personnel. Program officials, including associate athletic director Richard Kilwein, athletic director Mike Orr and head coach Randy Bennett, have all declined to comment. The Gaels broke Gonzaga’s more than decade-long stranglehold over West Coast Conference hoops last season by claiming the league title outright, the first time since the 1999-2000 season that a team other than the Zags seized solitary ownership of the conference crown. For a program that during Bennett’s tenure has evolved into one of the nation’s premier mid-majors, any punitive measures would represent a major stain in an otherwise sparkling recent history.

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Lance Thomas Reaches a Settlement Deal: Is the NCAA Rendered Powerless In Its Investigation?

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 19th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The chances that former Duke forward Lance Thomas did not commit some kind of NCAA violation when he purchased $98,700 worth of jewelry on a December road trip to New York City during his senior season are, shall we say, doubtful. Thomas, a starting role player on the Blue Devils’ eventual National Championship-winning team in 2009-10, walked into world-renowned jeweler Rafaello & Co., dropped a $30,000 down payment on a host of diamonds and other trinkets, then promised to pay the remaining $67,800 within the next 15 days. His spending spree – the specifics of which were released last week when word leaked of the firm’s lawsuit against Thomas – raised many eyebrows. It is not every day that student-athletes – from the most well-off to those struggling to stay afloat on hefty financial aid packages/scholarships – walk into celebrity-hotspot jewelers and splash nearly $100,000 on buckets of iced-out swag; not without drawing the analytical glare of NCAA staffers, not without an explanation as to how or where the money came from, nor whether any third parties were involved in the transaction. Given the bare facts, it was hard not to come away thinking Rafaello & Co would entrust someone like Thomas with such for any other reason than an assumed stipulation of future NBA riches and the subsequent jewelry spending they prefigure. Thomas never made good on his promise, and so Rafaello & Co., after waiting more than two years for him to repay the loan, demanded he break even on his credit. On Tuesday, the Raleigh News and Observer reported that the two parties had reached a settlement on the matter.

If neither Thomas nor Rafaello & Co. come clean with specifics, the NCAA may be impotent in pursuing the case (Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images).

Now that Thomas’ outstanding debt has been settled, there are legitimate concerns that NCAA investigators will have no grounds on which to pursue information regarding the former Duke player’s involvement in this transaction. The NCAA cannot compel members outside its jurisdiction to cooperate, meaning neither Thomas nor Rafaello & Co. can be forced to speak with the organization about his purchase. There’s one caveat. A conversation between ESPN.com’s Andy Katz and Indianapolis attorney Stu Brown, a legal specialist focusing on NCAA cases, shed some light on the NCAA’s procedural wherewithal.  The terms of the settlement – which may or may not ever become public – may permit Thomas or Rafaello & Co. to speak with NCAA investigators, but if the legal ramifications mandate either or both to keep quiet on the specifics of their transaction, the NCAA will likely have no substantial recourse to find clarity in what on its face appears to be a blatant violation of amateurism. From Katz’s story:

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Harvard Cheating Scandal Speaks to the Tenuous Relationship Between Academics and College Athletics

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 12th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

When word leaked nearly two weeks ago of a massive academic scandal at Harvard University, it was easy to overreact at the prospect of some of the nation’s brightest and most academically qualified students setting aside baseline expectations of academic honesty and integrity. After all, this is Harvard, long held as the putative gold standard of collegiate institutions, the dream school for practically every high school nerd with Ivy League aspirations. But when you dug into the details, which the New York Times provided one day after the allegations surfaced, none of it seemed particularly groundbreaking. Students enrolled in a 2012 spring Introduction to Congress class, which according to students had a reputation as one of the easiest classes at the school, colluded on take-home tests, questioned the fairness of graduate teaching assistants across sections and appealed to those assistants after reaching a consensus on unfamiliar exam terminology. There was a general understanding among enrollees that their actions were much less intentional than a product of a flawed conception of the school’s academic policies. All of which, at least as far as I could tell, undermined the severity of the transgressions. The only mildly surprising aspect of the story was the sheer number (125) of students implicated. It was a minor stain on Harvard’s sterling academic reputation, sure, but it certainly looked as if it would all dissipate in time.

The defining storyline of the 2012-13 for the Crimson will be the academic scandal that enveloped Curry and Casey (Photo credit: Getty Images).

The ongoing investigation has now crossed into the athletic realm, per Luke Winn of SI.Com, who reported early Tuesday morning that co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, two cornerstones of the Crimson’s 2012-13 Ivy League title defense efforts, are in jeopardy of missing their senior seasons. Casey decided to withdraw before Tuesday’s fall enrollment deadline. While he is yet to receive punishment for his alleged involvement in the widespread academic fraud, Casey ran the risk of losing his final year of eligibility by attending classes this fall if school administrators render an unfavorable verdict. Curry hasn’t made a final decision as of this writing, but is expected to follow Casey and forgo the upcoming academic year. In surrendering their eligibility this season, both players are expected to return for the 2013-14 season. A third men’s basketball player, along with a score of football players, could also face renounced or curtailed academic schedules this year.

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Will Lance Thomas’ Jewelery Purchases Endanger Duke’s 2010 National Championship?

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 10th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The following names are listed as “clients” on the website of Rafaello & Co. Jewelers: Drake, Jay-Z, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Justin Bieber. I’m barely scratching the surface of the illustrious canon of entertainment superstars and hip-hop moguls associated with the famous New York jeweler, but you get the point. This is not your average knock-off thrift shop. You don’t walk into Rafaello & Co. unless you have some serious cash to splash. So it’s not at all surprising that Lance Thomas, a starting forward on Duke’s 2010 National Championship team and a current member of the New Orleans Hornets, needed nearly $100,000 to purchase a black diamond necklace, a diamond-encrusted watch, a pair of diamond-stud earrings, a diamond cross and a black diamond pendant in the shape of Jesus’ head. No, what’s surprising is how Thomas was able to pony up $30,000 just two days after Duke defeated then-No. 15 Gonzaga at Madison Square Garden, in the midst of the Blue Devils’ title-winning season. And how Thomas was extended a nearly $70,000 loan to complete the glamorous spending spree. Even more puzzling is the fact that Thomas was expected to repay the loan within 15 days, and that Rafaello & Co. waited over two years to file a suit against him demanding he break even on the very credit he sought when he made purchase.

The NCAA will likely investigate Thomas’ involvement in a potential improper benefits scandal, endangering Duke’s 2010 National Championship (Photo credit: AP Photo).

There’s plenty to be resolved here, and it’s far too early to draw conclusions. But unless Thomas somehow managed to accumulate $30,000 (and was expected to raise nearly $70,000 on top of that within the next 15 days) while undergoing one of the more rigorous academic curricula in the nation and, mind you, the added time spent practicing, lifting, studying film and playing basketball at Duke, this situation has the looks of a hanging curve ball, slowly arching its way into the heart of the strike zone, awaiting its bludgeoning from the NCAA’s sanction-laced Louisville Slugger. If college athletics’ ruling body is determined to achieve one mission with its quirky and vaguely byzantine rulebook, it is to sustain the notion of amateurism. Student-athletes are not to use their extra-curricular activities as leverage to obtain financial benefits or other gifts unavailable to non-athletes. Which means Thomas must have received no outside assistance in making a five-figure lump-sum payment at a world-renowned jeweler. He had to have made the money himself. Nor could he have used his status as “Duke forward” to persuade the jeweler into giving him the loan. That’s the baseline assumption we’re making for his innocence. However, if an outside source provided aid when Thomas completed his transaction nearly three years ago, things could get ugly for one of college basketball’s marquee programs and the patron saint that bosses its sidelines.

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Tough Weekend in LA: UCLA and USC Face NCAA Problems Again

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 4th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Situated only 12 miles apart, an angst-inducing, traffic-clogged car ride away from one another, USC and UCLA have for many years sustained an adversarial existence on the athletic playing fields. The Trojans have dominated their cross-town rivals on the gridiron of late, while the Bruins have lorded over their cardinal-and-gold clad foes on the basketball court. The rivalry is alive and well, and both teams continue to make strides hoping to find ways to outperform one another in the revenue-producing sports. It starts with recruiting, the elemental building block to any successful program. Coaches at top programs like UCLA and USC must be able to seek out and sway the nation’s best high school players to their respective institutions. The meteoric rise of recruiting, propelled by expansive coverage from general scouting sites like Rivals, Scout, 247sports and ESPN Recruiting Nation, has pushed the art of courtship into the national spotlight, and coaches/programs are now judged on their ability not only to win games and draw fans but to also attract the best prospects in the country. The two LA schools have long stood as premium destinations for top-tier high school talents, but in today’s financially-intertwined recruiting market, these programs’ reputations, coaches, facilities and prime location – who doesn’t enjoy the comfort of a sunbath on the way to practice nearly every day of the year? – don’t hold the alluring force they once did. Often times persuading the cream of the high school crop requires more than what NCAA legislation allows.

The subject of an NCAA investigation, Anderson and Muhammad might not see the court in 2012-13 (Photo credit: Albert Dickson/SportingNews)

So even when an historic program like UCLA reels in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class – as it did in 2012, built on the backs of four commitments and featuring the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, Shabazz Muhammad – at least some measure of suspicion is warranted. Athletic director Dan Guerrero revealed on Monday that the NCAA has shifted its analytical eye toward that prized recruiting haul. In a statement released by the school, Guerrero confirmed that two members of the Bruins’ incoming class have yet to receive eligibility clearance for the upcoming season. A recent report by Scout’s BruinReportOnline.com  indicated three players (Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker) are in danger of losing their eligibility, but ESPN Los Angeles, citing an unnamed source, reported the ongoing probe concerns potential recruiting violations on behalf of Anderson and Muhammad. Parker, according to the same source, has been cleared to play this season. Muhammad’s recruitment has been subjected to NCAA scrutiny over the past several months, with particular concern over his relationship with financial advisers Ken Kavanagh and Benjamin Lincoln and his method of payment for several unofficial visits. Muhammad was held out of UCLA’s recent foreign exhibition tour to China, but Anderson and Parker both attended with the team (though Parker did not play due to injury).

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Does Julius Peppers’ Transcript Put UNC in Danger of Severe Sanctions?

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 16th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Thanks to the inadvertent release of what appears to be a prominent former student-athlete’s academic transcript, the breadth and time frame of the UNC academic scandal involving its football team has been brought into clearer focus. On Sunday night, a partial grade summary bearing the name Julius Peppers, now a six-time Pro Bowl defensive end with the Chicago Bears, appeared on the University’s website. The transcript lists a GPA of 1.824, with nine of the 10 classes in which Peppers received a B– or higher – classes that helped preserve his eligibility– falling under the African and Afro-American studies program that’s long since marked a point of emphasis in the school’s investigation into possible academic injustices. In an internal probe that began in June 2010 following an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic wrongdoing within the football program, the school identified a four-year window (2007-11) during which former AFAM department head Julius Nyang’oro oversaw 54 impermissible classes, with violations ranging from forged grade reports to lack of teacher supervision to classes that, lo and behold, never actually existed. Peppers, who played reserve minutes on the Tar Heels’ 2000 Final Four team, majored in that tainted department. If the school confirms the validity of the released transcript, his participation on both the football and basketball teams in theory could be deemed retroactively invalid. More broadly, the transcript introduces the possibility that the academic misconduct within the AFAM department could have also involved the men’s basketball program and spans back more than a decade, preceding the initial four-year period highlighted by the school’s internal investigation.

The UNC basketball program may face sanctions for possible academic impropriety (Photo credit: Getty Images).

What began as a textbook improper benefits case now has the look of something far more nefarious. The NCAA, operating under its standard procedure, appeared to have delivered a decisive blow in March by docking UNC 15 scholarships over three years and issuing a one-year postseason ban to the football team. The school’s internal investigation revealed that was just the tip of the iceberg, though its focus – mostly football-centric in nature – remained fixed on a four-year period in which academic advisers steered student athletes into those 54 bogus classes. If Peppers’ transcript is authentic, there’s good reason to suspect the academic fraud began long before the school began investigating it. Perhaps more jarring is the legitimate prospect that more players from the basketball program partook in the illegal behavior, which means that, depending on the specifics of who, when and how each player was involved, the Tar Heels’ four most recent Final Four appearances (2000, 2005, 2008, 2009) are well within bounds for any potential NCAA or self-imposed sanctions.

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Bruce Pearl, VP Of Marketing — For Now

Posted by jstevrtc on August 30th, 2011

The ink on Bruce Pearl’s three-year show-cause sanction from the NCAA is barely dry, and he’s already found his next job. Pearl has agreed to the position of VP of Marketing for the Knoxville-based H.T. Hackney company, one of the biggest wholesale grocers in the country. We haven’t been able to confirm this yet, but RTC is going on record as saying that Hackney’s CEO, William Sansom, will not have to go before the NCAA to justify why it wants to hire the former Tennessee boss.

Pearl: From Volunteer to VP to...We'll See

OK, we’re ribbing Pearl a little, there, but frankly, we like the move. A lot of guys who have achieved Pearl’s level of success would shun opportunities like this, knowing how they’d be made fun of for going from the heights of men’s Division I hoops to a wholesale grocer (though it is a $4 billion a year outfit). Pearl doesn’t care about this, and we think that’s something to admire. What’s more is…it’s a VP job in marketing. Not an easy day’s work, usually, but we also know a lot of marketing VPs who do absolutely no work at all. We predict that Pearl — a marketing and economics major in college, according to the linked article — will have a workload that falls somewhere in-between there but closer to the latter.

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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.

Behold, the Statistic In Dispute, From Kentucky's 2010-11 Factbook

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.

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Renardo Sidney Suspended Indefinitely

Posted by nvr1983 on December 24th, 2010

Late yesterday, news broke that Renardo Sidney, the troubled Mississippi State forward, was involved in a fight in the stands with a teammate at the Diamond Head Classic. Coming soon after he had served a one-game suspension for an outburst during practice, we wondered how Rick Stansbury and the Mississippi State administration would respond. We may have our first indication as Mississippi State announced just a few hours ago that it had suspended Sidney and Elgin Bailey indefinitely. In a little over a year in Starkville, Sidney has only played in two official games due to suspensions — first by the NCAA for one year and nine games and then by the school for the aforementioned “conduct detrimental to the team.”

Sidney has not lived up to his potential yet

In between the three suspensions (counting the upcoming one), Sidney has shown flashes of brilliance in his two games as he scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds in 24 minutes against Virginia Tech, and scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes against San Diego. Still, there continues to be an aura of trouble around Sidney and many are questioning his commitment to the game as Mike DeCourcy astutely noted that, despite having nearly 20 months to get ready for his first game, Sidney still was not in shape. Now the question is whether Mississippi State, which waited nearly a year and a half to get Sidney into a Bulldog uniform, is willing to take Sidney back. His talent is unquestioned and many have stated that he may be the most talented player in college basketball, but you have to wonder how much more Stansbury and the rest of the team are willing to put up with before they cut the cord like Memphis did with Jelan Kendrick earlier this season. Now there are also reports that many of his teammates want him off the team as his talent is no longer worth the trouble. If he is kicked off the team, we suspect that he would seriously consider entering the NBA Draft as he would have a difficult time finding another high-level college program that would be willing to take a chance on him.

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