The UKAA has officially released a statement on the Er..."/> The UKAA has officially released a statement on the Er..."/>

Bottom line on the Eric Bledsoe situation … for now


The UKAA has officially released a statement on the Eric Bledsoe eligibility and it is looking more and more like UK knew that Bledsoe’s grades may be an issue, and took the extra precautions of vetting him thoroughly. Here is what UK had to say about the matter:

Often high profile student-athletes are selected for an extensive prospective student-athlete (PSA) review.

“Eric Bledsoe participated in the normal academic review process and also an extensive PSA review by the NCAA Eligibility Center and was cleared academically.”

If we recall last year, it took most of the summer before UK would clear Bledsoe academically to be eligible at UK. This statement confirms that the in addition to the thorough examination by UK, the NCAA also did an extensive review and cleared him to play also.

It is important to note that this is NOT a Derrick Rose situation and that from all appearances no new information has come out suggesting there was any type of academic fraud involved with Bledsoe. The reason that the Derrick Rose ACT scores came to light was that ETS threw out Rose’s scores and were not able to contact him as he was at Memphis, and not in Chicago where they mailed the letters.

An article in the Birmingham News had a bit more information on the Bledsoe grade issue and it said that as of early 2009, Bledsoe was very aware that he was in danger of not qualifying and that he needed to improve to be able to qualify:

Bledsoe said in February 2009 that he had a 2.4 grade-point average and a 15 ACT score, short of the NCAA qualifying standards. He said then that he needed an 18 or 19 on the ACT to be eligible.

If memory serves me right, I think that Bledsoe got an 17 on his ACT and that was probably why his academic record needed the additional vetting. I see nothing about a 2 point jump in an ACT score that would raise any red flags whatsoever (another deviation from Derrick Rose) and with the UKAA statement, I am pretty confident that Bledsoes grades will not be an issue.

Some people are jumping on the fact that Bledsoe took internet courses to make some grades up and this is a non issue as well. It is a common practice and if you look at the case of Michael “The Blind Side” Oher, you will see he made the same kind of turnaround to become eligible at Ole Miss.

And as for the NCAA investigation? The same Birmingham story revealed that two NCAA investigators were in Alabama in late February. One of them had some real basic questions with Bledsoe’s HS coach at Hayes, the school Bledsoe attended for his Freshman through Junior year and then closed down. Steve Ward said two officials approached him, had some very basic questions about Bledsoe and asked for a copy of Bledsoe’s transcript. Ward did not have Bledsoe’s transcript anymore since the school had closed but he did tell the investigators that Bledsoe was always eligible at Hayes.

Birmingham city schools AD George Moore was also approached by two NCAA officials and was asked for information on Bledsoe’s residency issue. Moore said the school district felt that this was personal information and did not provide anything to the NCAA. It should also be noted that the Alabama High School Association cleared the Bledsoe residency issue and cleared him to play at Parker. Bledsoe did have to sit out a few games while his residency was in question but was ultimately was cleared.

The last big question to this is the supposed rent payments from Bledsoe’s HS coach at Parker , Maurice Ford, to Bledsoe’s mother. It should be noted that this was a $400 a month apartment in question, not a million dollar mansion that was at the root of the Renardo Sydney investigation. The NY Times seems to have dug up a landlady that claims that Maurice Ford paid her $1200 cash for three months rent and that the Bledsoe family still owes her $3200 for unpaid rent.

Does she have an ax to grind? Sounds like it. Is she aware that Bledsoe is on the verge of becoming an NBA millionaire? Sounds like it. Does she feel she is owed money by Bledsoe’s family? Yup.

So it comes down to alleged cash payments from Maurice Ford to the landlady. Cash. Which is impossible to track or to prove. And I really don’t see the NCAA being to interested in this unless Ford wrote a check for the rent or signed some type of receipt indicating that he had paid this. If that is not there, this is a non issue. It should be noted that Maurice Ford, who said that Bledsoe’s grades were “awful” in the Times story, has said that the NCAA has not spoken to him about Bledsoe and several administrators at Parker have denied any knowledge of an NCAA visit and said they have not been contacted.

Since this all happened in February and UK still has no indication of an investigation, I would consider it a dead issue. I am sure the NCAA send out people to investigate all claims, and it appears there were just two brief discussions held and no one else seems to have any clue on any NCAA investigation.

It could be that the NCAA sent people just to see if there was any new information, talked to a few people, and satisfied with their previous investigation of Bledsoe left town and declared this a non issue as well. If there is a college coach that is willing to say that Ford demanded money, his name would come out in a subsequent investigation, but it appears that there is nothing else.

In summary, based on what we know now, this looks like a big non story based on old information. Neither UK or Calipari seem at risk nor have their names been mentioned in any investigation and if anything, this seems more like a Eric Bledsoe HS sitution, and not one for UK or Calipari.

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