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Calipari's legacy tainted after his second Final Four is vacated


After the NCAA stripped Memphis of its 2008 Final Four -- and all its wins that season -- we caught up with college basketball expert Seth Davis to get his reaction. In the Memphis press conference, school president Shirley Raines said Memphis made 'an honest mistake' when it came to allowing one of Derrick Rose's brothers on the team plane without charging him. How could they have made that mistake?

Seth Davis: I was on the recruiting circuit this summer and when I was talking to coaches there was a lot of surprise that he was on the plane in the first place. Apparently that is not a kosher practice, whether he paid for it or not. I asked coaches if they had a player's family member on the team plane and they said no.

That doesn't mean they're telling the truth and there's nothing from NCAA that says he wasn't allowed on the plane. But the fact that he was on the plane means they should have been that much more careful in terms of his paying for it -- it is true that he paid for other flights, but I think there needs to be some clarification if a family member can be on a plane in the first place. President Raines said they did everything they could do determine that Derrick Rose was eligible. What does that mean and did the school do everything it should have?

SD: I do have sympathy with Memphis in regards to their position on the SAT. Rose got notices in March and April that there might be something wrong with his score. Is Memphis, in the middle of the NCAA tournament, declare Derrick Rose ineligible to investigate this claim? Then, his test score doesn't get invalidated until a month after the tournament is over, so he's retroactively ineligible. What are you supposed to do? The eligibility center declares he's eligible and then they don't declare test invalid until after the tournament is over.

I think that's why they didn't whack Memphis harder, not because Calipari's not there anymore. With no other penalties really looming, do you think Memphis got off easy?

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SD: I don't think they got off easy. Memphis got whacked hard on this and this sticks forever, and it's going to stick on coach Calipari forever. I'm not sure it's totally fair, but the fact is he's now taken two schools to the Final Four and they've both been vacated and he's never been implicated. That being said, what does this mean for Calipari?

SD: His legacy is tarnished forever and nothing can done about that. He should have known about the test score, but there are a lot of things that coaches should know about but don't know. And again, he was never implicated. How could Calipari not know?

SD: I think most of the time coaches know or choose not to know. If you notice a kid coming into the locker room and he's wearing a really nice necklace or new diamond earring or watch, are you going to follow up or let it go the other way. Calipari didn't get in trouble, but you have to think that the NCAA is watching Kentucky pretty closely.

SD: They're watching Kentucky closely. I know they've been poking around on the John Wall case, and I'm sure they're very interested in what's going on with William Wesley. This is the first time that I heard the invalid test was taken in Detroit -- which begs the question: why is a high school kid from Chicago taking his SAT in Detroit, which is the home of William Wesley? So in the end, who is at fault: John Calipari, Derrick Rose's handlers, or Memphis?

SD: All three ... college basketball is just not a pretty sight. It's an institutional problem that there's so many people with their fingers in this process and who have an interest in these kids going to certain schools, and more importantly going to certain agents. It's all about the agents -- the agents have the affiliates sprinkled all the way through, it is almost like the coaches become afterthoughts.

It's almost like someone arranged for Derrick Rose to pass his standardized test and we would feel better if it was Calipari's fault. It would be better for college hoops if it was Calipari's fault because you can punish Calipari, the NCAA doesn't have jurisdiction over these other people and that's where the problem lies.