Memphis Tigers Ordered by NCAA to Vacate 38 Wins from 2007-2008 Basketball Season
Student Athletes ?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, functions as the governing body for the highest levels college sports in the United States. College basketball is big business, bringing in billions of dollars in sponsorship money, merchandising, and ticket sales each season. The most accomplished players will be an opportunity to move to professional basketball, usually the NBA (National Basketball Association) or other professional leagues in other parts of the world.Rookie contracts in the NBA are worth millions of dollars to the players. Players have agents, advisers, and assorted hangers-on who also influence the process.
With money comes the temptation to bend the rules. Top high school basketball players step into the spotlight as early as eighth grade. College coaches work to build relationships with young players who will not make a college decision for several years. Unfortunately, some young players do not handle the attention well. Grades suffer to the point that many top athletes cannot qualify for NCAA eligibility. The NCAA publishes strict guidelines for college entrance exam scores and high school grades. Players are obligated to demonstrate some level of academic achievement in order to gain entrance to NCAA member schools.
The Memphis Tigers enjoyed an extremely successful season in 2007-2008. They played 40 games, a large number for a typical NCAA basketball season. They advanced through the NCAA tournament, defeating Texas to reach the "Final Four". As a Final Four team, they reaped great financial rewards and national recognition for the school and the basketball program. They appeared in the championship game, but lost to Kansas. Their star player Derrick Rose, left school shortly after the final game. He voluntarily gave up his remaining three years of eligibility for the opportunity to play in the NBA. Ultimately he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and became one of their star players.
Rumors and Punishments
According to the NCAA, players' academic records are private. Rumors swirl around the college entrance exams taken by Rose. Some sources allege that Rose failed the ACT exam three times while in high school. Failing three times is somewhat out of the ordinary for a typical student who expects to qualify for college acceptance.
Another rumor hints that Rose allegedly allowed another student take the SAT college entrance exam for him. If true, this is a blatant violation of NCAA regulations and also a prime example of academic fraud. This situation is the focus of the NCAA investigation that culminated in a ruling ordering Memphis to vacate all 38 wins from the 2007-2008 season. The ruling does not specifically name Rose, but does mention that the player in question left school after the season.
Memphis is appealing the NCAA decision. They argue that the NCAA approved the eligibility of the student in question before he enrolled, therefore the school is not at fault.
Justice or not?
"Vacating" all 38 wins will obligate the University of Memphis to edit its' record books. At this point, no judgment has been forthcoming as to whether or not the school must return any money. Inside the basketball arena hang banners commemorating the achievements of the2007-2008 team. Should those banners be removed?
If money is demanded by the NCAA, should the funds be returned to corporate sponsors, to charity, to the teams that Memphis defeated throughout the season, or to the coffers of the NCAA?
The head coach of the team during that season has moved on to another school. His reputation has been sullied, but beyond that no punishment for him has been announced. As the head coach, he is responsible for the activities of all employees and players associated with the basketball program. He benefited tremendously from the success of the team during his tenure at the school. He escaped almost entirely unscathed from the penalties handed down by the NCAA.
Alternatively, the NCAA clearinghouse approved the test scores and transcripts of the player in question. An argument can be made that the coach bears no culpability in the matter.
The NCAA needs a mechanism to pursue players and coaches who have already left the system
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