It has been just over 16 months since the Memphis Tigers held an eight-point lead over the Kansas Jayhawks with just two minutes to play in the NCAA Basketball Championship Game in San Antonio. Kansas would go on to make up the deficit and win the title in overtime, leaving Memphis with nothing but heartbreak.
Of course, that never happened. At least the NCAA says it didn’t.
Memphis has been forced to vacate all of its 38 victories from the 2007-2008 season after an investigation revealed the team played with an ineligible player. No team in the history of NCAA Basketball had ever won more games than Memphis did that year, and now they will go into the history books with the fewest wins of anyone in the country — zero.
The ineligible player was revealed to be Derrick Rose, a key part of the Memphis offense in their storybook season.
The crime? He didn’t really take his SAT that got him into Memphis. Come on, we’ve all been there before.
Laughing matters aside, Rose left a program in shambles because of his decision, as history has been changed and a three-year probation has been placed on the school. However, they certainly earned that penalty by doing more than just playing an ineligible player.
It was also revealed in the investigation that Rose’s brother, Reggie, was provided with $1,700 in free travel from the program. When it is discovered that unauthorized people are being provided with free travel, you dig yourself into a very deep hole with the NCAA.
Memphis’ head coach from that season was John Calipari. He has since moved on to take the same position at Kentucky, and will attempt to bring the Wildcats back to glory starting this November.
Knowing Calipari’s history says a lot of things about the situation. He has a very successful track record at every school in which he has coached, but he has also been known to leave a trail of debris in his path after leaving a job.
While this may be the biggest blemish on his record, it certainly isn’t the first. He has taken two different teams to the Final Four (Memphis in 2008 and Massachusetts in 1996), and in both instances, the achievement has been vacated due to rules violations.
This makes his list of accomplishments and the official record look very contradictory, and it wouldn’t make me want to hire him.
Vacation of wins has become a very popular option for punishment these days with the NCAA, those of us at Florida State University definitely know that. However, I think in this case, the punishment definitely fits the crime. If one of the most valuable players in the country was actually ineligible, then Memphis shouldn’t be allowed to claim those wins.
Calipari has a lot of work to do if he wants to prove to the basketball world that he’s more than a dirty cheater. After all, he’s proven that he can’t get to the Promised Land unless he bends the rules.
Good luck, Kentucky. I’m sure he will change.