Sports 56 WHBlog Q

June 9, 2009

Who is Really to Blame?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Will Askew @ 11:09 am

I went out of town last Thursday, about 16 hours after the news of the NCAA investigation into the University of Memphis golf and men’s basketball programs had broken.  Consequently, I haven’t really had a chance to discuss it with anyone until yesterday, and I wasn’t going to write this on vacation.  So the real question in this situation is–who is really to blame in this whole mess?  John Calipari?  RC Johnson?  Derrick Rose?  All three?

To me, the lion’s share of the blame must go on to RC Johnson.  According to the Commercial Appeal, the Tigers got this letter on January 16th of this year.  Why then, was it not released until the end of May?  John Calipari probably had a lot to do with this, for a couple of reasons…he probably convinced those who were concerned that releasing this would hurt recruiting for this season, and also, he basically ran the athletic department.  If the athletic department had released it in January, it likely could have controlled most of the negative press it would have received for it.  Of course, since Calipari essentially was the figurehead of the athletic department and most of the press would have been negative about him…connect the dots.  However, all that negative press likely would have meant that Calipari would have never gotten the Kentucky job.  Which brings me to my next point.  If you’re not going to release the letter back in January, why not release it when you’re trying to keep Calipari in Memphis?  Instead of meeting with boosters until God knows when in the morning, a lot of this seemingly could have been avoided if RC had decided to play hardball and released (or at least threatened to release) the letter during negotiations.  There’s no way to know what might have happened, but I would think that if this had happened, Calipari might still be here with the best recruiting class in the country and the Tiger basketball team would be set up as #1 or #2 in the country preseason next year.

Secondly, this whole question about whether or not Josh Pastner knew or didn’t know about the letter really rubs me the wrong way, and reportedly, none of the coaches who talked with RC about the job were told either.  If Pastner didn’t know, it is absolutely inexcusable, and the fact that none of the coaches knew is also inexcusable.  It makes the Tiger brass look duplicitous and sneaky.  That is not the way to run an athletic department.

Some of the blame also must go to John Calipari.  There’s no way, with as much power and influence as Calipari has in recruiting these athletes, that he did not know that Rose’s test score was questionable.  No way.  He’s not being investigated for any of this, but if the worst happens and the Tigers are forced to forfeit their 38-win season and Final Four, that makes 2 for 2 vacated Final Fours for Cal.  That’s 100%, folks.

Obviously, Derrick Rose deserves blame if all of this is true as well.  For someone to cheat on their SAT is very obviously dishonest and makes a mockery of the NCAA Clearinghouse and College Board; however, Rose knew he was only going to play one year at Memphis.  I am somewhat surprised that this doesn’t happen more.

Someone should be held accountable in all this mess, and I believe that someone should be RC Johnson.  It’s not only for this mess, either.  The Tiger women’s golf team obviously has issues–who hired the golf coach?  The Tiger football team’s schedule and facilities are woefully inadequate–on whom does that fall?  Now, RC Johnson has mangled two post-Calipari situations–the coaching search (no matter how well Josh Pastner does, it was mishandled) and the handling of this NCAA investigation.  This is, of course, to say nothing of the Tigers’ lack of preparation when the conferences realigned back in 2005 and his hiring of Tic Price.  RC Johnson is a terrific guy and a great fundraiser, but the University of Memphis needs an AD with vision and the skills necessary to handle tough situations.  It’s time for a change.


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