Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky, which has a checkered NCAA past

It has been a week since the story broke that the NCAA is looking at the University of Memphis' basketball program regarding possible rules violations. The charges are considered major. The most serious allegation is that an unknown person took a SAT exam in place of a player, according to the Associated Press.

Of course, new University of Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari was the coach at Memphis when the alleged incident took place. Calipari is not considered at risk in the probe, but the NCAA required him to take part in a hearing this week.

Even though he is not accused of any wrong doing, it is interesting that his new job is at a school known almost as much for its corruption as for its championships.

Want proof? Here is some information courtesy of the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The aftermath of a severe point-shaving scandal made UK, in effect, the first school to get the death penalty. In November, the NCAA asked its member schools not to play Kentucky in men's basketball during the 1952-53 season. The NCAA cited at least four instances over a four-year period of UK supporters giving Kentucky players money. As a result, UK canceled its basketball season. Had the Wildcats been allowed to play, a team with stars Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey probably would have led Adolph Rupp to his fourth NCAA championship in six seasons. The examples of illegal subsidization of players came to the attention of the NCAA after they arose in court documents relating to the massive point-shaving scandal of the late 1940s. That national scandal ensnared at least 31 players from around the United States. Adolph Rupp, who had publicly vowed that gamblers "couldn't get to our players with a 10-foot pole," was embarrassed when ex-UK stars Ralph Beard and Alex Groza admitted accepting cash.

Kentucky hit the daily double of cheating, going on probation in both football and men's basketball at the same time. Among violations the NCAA cited were cars and cash apparently offered to UK players, as well as some recruits who chose other schools. At the time, 12 Kentucky boosters were ordered to disassociate themselves from UK athletics. The basketball program, which was deemed to have the least serious offenses, was given two years of probation and limited to signing three new players in both 1978 and 1979. Coach Joe B. Hall's Wildcats were on probation when they won UK's fifth NCAA title in 1978.

In a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative series, the Herald-Leader reported that 26 former UK basketball players said they accepted either cash or gifts from boosters. After investigating for almost three years, the NCAA said in March 1988 that it had been unable to substantiate the infractions reported by the newspaper. The NCAA reprimanded UK for not cooperating with the investigation.

Some 28 days after the NCAA concluded its previous investigation, an air-freight package sent by UK to the father of a basketball recruit "popped open" in Los Angeles, revealing $1,000 in $50 bills. In addition to that infraction, the NCAA subsequently alleged that a UK player cheated on his ACT to earn a score high enough to qualify for eligibility. Ultimately, Kentucky was hit with three years of probation, including a two-year tournament ban and a one-year live TV blackout. Only the cooperation of then-UK President David Roselle in the investigation kept Kentucky from getting the death penalty, the NCAA said.

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