Memphis Athletic Director Defends Program

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson defended the men's basketball program Thursday, saying the school checks out all potential players.

He would not confirm that Derrick Rose, who led Memphis to the 2008 national title game, is at the center of an NCAA investigation of major violations during that season.

In a letter to the school the NCAA says an unknown person took the SAT for a player, with his knowledge, and then the player used that test to get into Memphis. The NCAA said the athlete in question played for the Tigers in the 2007-08 season and the 2008 NCAA tournament. The only person who played just that season was Rose.

"We wouldn't play anybody if we hadn't checked it out pretty thoroughly," Johnson told The Associated Press.

Johnson would not identify the player involved for privacy reasons. But he said the player is cooperating with Memphis' investigation into the allegations.

"Nobody has thrown up any road blocks," Johnson said. "We're trying to get it resolved and do it the right way."

The NCAA has asked Memphis to provide copies of the SAT and a Sept. 2, 2008, report by a forensic document examiner who studied the handwriting in the SAT.

Rose's attorney, Daneil E. Reidy, said in a statement Thursday that the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft by Chicago and this season's rookie of the year was aware of the allegations.

"Mr. Rose cooperated fully with the University of Memphis' athletic and legal departments' investigation of this issue when he was a student and that investigation uncovered no wrong-doing on his part," Reidy said. "At this time, Mr. Rose sees no reason to engage in further discussion regarding this matter and will instead focus on his career as a professional basketball player.

"Neither Mr. Rose nor I will have further comment."

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that someone with access to Rose's academic records at Simeon High School changed a D to a C on his transcript. The newspaper reported that Rose was one of four athletes at the school whose grades were boosted for a one-month period after their June 2007 graduation and then changed back after the bogus transcripts were sent to colleges.

Memphis was notified Jan. 16 of the potentially major violations in the men's basketball program and will appear June 6 in Indianapolis before the NCAA committee on infractions for a hearing. Johnson declined to provide any details on what Memphis has found in its investigation prior to the hearing.

"We've been working on this for some time and continue to get our final presentation finalized and make sure we dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts," Johnson said.

The alleged violations occurred under John Calipari, who left March 31 to take over at Kentucky. Calipari, who's cooperating with the investigation, was told by the NCAA in a letter that he was not at risk of being charged with any violations in the case.

Kentucky president Lee Todd reiterated in a statement Thursday that his university was aware of the inquiry while interviewing Calipari.

"We are confident that Coach Calipari was not involved in any way," Todd said. "He was very open with us about what he was aware of at that particular time, and since this is an issue between the University of Memphis and the NCAA and not a UK issue, we will not be commenting further on anything related to this situation."

Memphis faces the loss of its 38 wins that season.

New Memphis coach Josh Pastner said he wasn't aware of the allegations when offered the job in April to replace Calipari.

"It's nothing that will affect the current team, which I believe," said Pastner, who first joined Tigers staff as an assistant in June 2008. "I can't comment anymore than that."


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
KOLO-TV 4850 Ampere Drive Reno, NV 89502
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 46424557