Tough day in Lexington. Not only did the former head coach turned Little Lord Fauntleroy (more on this later) sue his former employer for the entire value of his contract ($6M), but the Memphis Commercial-Appeal released a letter from the NCAA alleging two major violations at Memphis while under the dominion of current wundercoach, John Calipari.
One allegation involves providing free travel on the team plane for an associate of a player (valued at $2,260), but the much more serious allegation in our view is the one that accuses a Memphis player (presumably Derrick Rose) of pulling the old switcheroo with respect to his SAT examination. Put more directly, Rose is accused of having someone else take the test for him. The names are redacted, but see the relevant allegation from the NCAA letter below.
It goes without saying that academic fraud is something that catches the NCAA’s attention, especially when it involves a superstar player capable of nearly leading his team to a national title in his freshman season. The letter doesn’t present the NCAA’s evidence, but you can rest assured that they wouldn’t come at Memphis with these allegations if there wasn’t a considerable evidentiary basis for it. If Rose is in fact later deemed to have been ineligible during the 2007-08 season, Memphis’ record 38 victories and its F4 appearance could be vacated.
Calipari isn’t specifically named in the NCAA letter, but reports indicate that he has been called to Indianapolis to discuss these allegations on June 6th. What’s striking is that this isn’t the first time that a Calipari player has had his entrance exam score called into question. Doneal Mack was a former Florida recruit whom the school refused to admit based on his ACT score rising “too sharply from one test to the next.” Of course, Calipari welcomed him to Memphis with open arms, and Mack has been a productive bench player in his three seasons with the Tigers.
And of course Kentucky fans are all too familiar with Eric Manuel’s sad tale of academic fraud from the late 80s which ultimately led to some of the darkest days in the program’s history. You have to wonder if the school’s frustration with Tubby and then Gillispie has opened the door to another era of the ‘anything goes’ mentality in Lexington. After all, it’s been a generation since Eddie Sutton was run out of town; most of the students at UK weren’t even alive yet for that particular abomination.
One thing’s for sure about this whole mess. Calipari is starting to remind us a little of Elijah Price in “Unbreakable” – bad shhtuff seems to follow him around wherever he goes, but nothing ever seems to get pinned directly onto him. Whether this is something Kentucky fans are worried about is up for debate, but this has to be a tad unsettling for Kentucky fans over the age of 30. (or maybe they’ll queue up another YouTube video of John Wall, who incidentally pled guilty to B&E today, and say wtf)
Now, back to Gillispie. As we said above, he’s suing UK for $6M based on his firing without cause (sucking, apparently, doesn’t count). What’s incredible is that, while Gillispie is battling the university over dollars, he continues to prance around Lexington area bars as if he were still the king of the castle. From Matt Jones’ KSR blog over the weekend… phenomenal.