Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How Rose and U of M Ran out the Clock

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Derrick Rose and the University of Memphis employed a similar strategy when confronted with allegations of cheating by the NCAA: We can't be blamed and held responsible for what we say we don't know.

The shenanigans will come to an end on Saturday in a hearing behind closed doors in Indianapolis. It will be a long day for university officials who made a risky bet on a risky star athlete and will now see their excuses scrutinized by experienced examiners who, unlike the testing service's forensic document examiner that the U of M tries to discredit in its report, will be able to bite back.

Once Rose learned that the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT college entrance exam, doubted that he took the test that allowed him to enter the U of M, he made himself scarce. Or as scarce as a star college basketball player can be, anyway.

He avoided receiving or didn't get some mail, including a March 17, 2008 letter questioning his test score and giving him the opportunity to defend it. Four days later, Memphis played its first game in the NCAA tournament. A second letter was sent on April 10, 2008. Again, Rose did not respond, and on May 5, 2008, his SAT score was invalidated. The university was notified on May 13, 2008, after the tournament was over.

Rose apparently did what many a deadbeat dad, credit-strapped consumer, and citizen caught in a legal proceeding has done. He avoided being served with process, with what amounted to an SAT subpoena. Then he and the university ran out the clock until the tournament was over and Rose was one-and-done and headed to the Chicago Bulls and the NBA.

Was Rose, perhaps, just not getting mail that he would willingly have opened and shared with his coach, John Calipari? Was this a Post Office problem? Not likely. Rose, according to the U of M response to the NCAA allegations, was well aware that there were continuing questions about his tests. Yet he "declined to participate further in the investigation and did not pursue any of the opportunities made available to him by ETS to attempt to validate his scores."

Note the "scores" plural. In 2007, Rose took the ACT and the SAT several times, the report says.

"In fact, Rose testified that his mother would not even tell him what his scores were after he took the test, but instead would only say whether he "passed" it or need to take it again."

Obviously, he did not pass on his first attempts. He was not trying to make a higher score so he could get into Princeton. He was trying to make a score that would let him play one year of college ball. He took the ACT first. By taking it more than once, he established a pattern, in effect a testing fingerprint. The SAT is different, but a student who flunks one is likely to flunk the other.

The scores Rose made on the various tests are redacted or blacked out in the report and exhibits. The report, incidentally, is 63 pages long but only 11 of those pages reference Rose and the standardized tests. The majority of the report and the 400-plus pages of exhibits pertain to women's golf and minor matters.

The U of M says it had no definitive proof that Rose cheated. When asked, he said he didn't. His passing score was initially verified. An early rumor out of Chicago, Rose's home town, that he did not take his own ACT was run to ground by Chicago school officials but dropped when the alleged source denied making the charge.

The U of M says it has "fully cooperated with this investigation, reviewing (Rose's) high school transcript and other academic documents submitted in support of his admission. In addition, the University interviewed (Rose) as well as the men's basketball coaching staff, regarding any knowledge they had of these allegations."

Rose said didn't cheat. The coaches said Rose said he didn't cheat. The U of M says the coaches and Rose said he didn't cheat. That's their story, and they stuck to until the 2008 NCAA tournament and 2009 tournaments were over, Rose went to the NBA, and Calipari went to Kentucky.

All the big players ran out the clock except U of M President Shirley Raines and R. C. Johnson, who have an appointment Saturday in Indianapolis. Not showing up because they didn't get the mail is not an option.

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