What is it about Memorial Day weekends and bad news concerning the UK athletic departmen..."/> What is it about Memorial Day weekends and bad news concerning the UK athletic departmen..."/>

NCAA "looking into" Eric Bledsoe


What is it about Memorial Day weekends and bad news concerning the UK athletic department? Last year, it was Jeremy Jarmon losing his eligibility for a banned substance. And now comes the news that Eric Bledsoe is being investigated by the NCAA.

Just remember, before everyone goes in to full “freakout mode”, we need to have a sense of decorum. On the surface, this looks kind of like a Derrick Rose situation in which ever school ended up taking Bledsoe would have face the same situation, but it’s important to remember that Eric Bledsoe, John Calipari, and UK have not been accused of any violations yet.

But without any more delay, here is a portion of the New York Times story announcing the investigation:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Two years ago, Eric Bledsoe was a star point guard without the grades to meet the N.C.A.A.’s minimum standards and needing to find a new high school. He solved both problems by moving to A. H. Parker High School and now, after one season at the University of Kentucky, he is awaiting a lucrative payday in next month’s N.B.A. draft.

The dramatic changes in Bledsoe’s academic and athletic prospects have attracted the attention of the N.C.A.A., which has sent investigators to at least three places in Alabama to ask about him. The N.C.A.A. does not talk about its investigations so the scope of this one is not known.

But Bledsoe’s academic makeover and extra benefits he apparently received could be another blow to John Calipari, the celebrated coach at Kentucky who previously led teams at Massachusetts and Memphis that had their records and Final Four appearances expunged after rules violations were found under his watch.

Interviews with those connected with Bledsoe’s life in Birmingham revealed potential violations:

¶Brenda Axle, the landlord for the house where Bledsoe and his mother moved for his senior year of high school, said that Bledsoe’s high school coach paid her at least three months’ rent, or $1,200. By moving there, Bledsoe was eligible to play for Parker, which he led to the Alabama Class 5A title game. Maurice Ford, the coach, denied paying the money.

¶A copy of Bledsoe’s high school transcript from his first three years reveals that it would have taken an improbable academic makeover — a jump from about a 1.9 grade-point average in core courses to just under a 2.5 during his senior year — for Bledsoe to achieve minimum N.C.A.A. standards to qualify for a scholarship.

¶A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother. Ford denied this, saying, “I don’t prostitute my kids.”

He said he had done nothing wrong, adding: “I’m a poor black man. And when one black man tries to help another black man, there’s always something wrong.”

Calipari did not return a telephone call and text message seeking comment. A Kentucky spokesman said he was tending to his ill mother.

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