Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Memphis releases report responding to the NCAA allegations

Earlier today, Memphis released a report saying they found no evidence of wrongdoing by the school regarding Derrick Rose. According to the report "the university ... took all reasonable steps to confirm that [name redacted] had met eligibility requirements."

Memphis is saying that they should be allowed to keep their victories, and Final Four trip, from the 2007-2008 season.

If the university's report is accurate, I would probably have to agree with them. It seems to be an issue of timing. According to the report, Memphis was notified in October of 2007 that a player's (the name was redacted throughout the entire report) eligibility was in question because a public school employee in his home city had notified the NCAA about possible grade tampering.

The only proof that the school had came from the analysis of a forensics expert specializing in handwriting, who said that the test "probably" didn't match the player's handwriting sample.

Is "probably" enough to keep a player ineligible? "Probably" not, especially when that player is (supposedly) Derrick Rose.

Derrick Rose is facing allegations of academic fraud.
(photo credit: Slam)

The Educational Testing Service is a non-profit organization that develops, administers, and scores tests. They told ESPN that they cannot cancel a score unless they have two credible forms of evidence.

"We can't cancel a test on one piece of evidence," ETS spokesman Tom Ewing said. "Like, for example, if someone copied we'd have to have a report from a school official and then verify it with a handwriting example. There has to be two pieces of evidence. A tip only gets the ball rolling. We cannot cancel a score on any tip, anonymous or otherwise."

Memphis received a letter from the ETS canceling Rose's score on May 5th, 2008, about a month after the Tigers had lost to Kansas in the title game. According to Ewing, on average less than 1,000 test scores (out of 3 million) get canceled, and the process usually takes about four weeks.

If the ETS started investigating Rose's score at the same time as Memphis, it was a seven month process.

Memphis officials probably knew that they were operating in a gray area, but it is also reasonable to assume that this is not an uncommon occurence. With the number of athletes that come into Memphis (and other schools with big time athletics programs) each and every year, I truly doubt that Rose's test score was the first test score - or GPA or dealings with an agent/handler or association with a shoe company - that forced the administration to look into the eligibility of that athlete.

With that in mind, if there is not enough evidence to conclusively say the kid did it, and that kid is convincing enough to make you believe he didn't (remember, Rose's image coming out of high school was that his brothers were over-protective of him and that he was able to avoid the issues of other high-profile recruits), are there grounds to make him ineligible?

If the ETS had canceled the score on November 5th, then yes. But they canceled it May 5th.

So while Memphis is not going to come off looking like the cleanest program in the country, I don't think there is enough here to prove they "knowingly and fraudulently" used an ineligible player during the 2007-08 season.

Congrats, Coach Cal. You may end up staying on the list of coaches with a Final Four.

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