Blog Entry

UK should've known better, investigator says

Posted on: June 2, 2010 11:18 am
Edited on: June 2, 2010 1:51 pm

Kentucky officials should've known there were concerns that could affect the eligibility of Eric Bledsoe, an investigator who checks the background of athletes told the Lexington-Herald Leader's Jerry Tipton in a story published Wednesday.

"Coaches at other schools know there [were potential problems]," said Michael L. Buckner, an investigator and attorney based in Florida. "[So] I would assume Kentucky knew or should have known."

Buckner goes on to explain what I think is the most interesting aspect of the story -- that schools focused primarily on winning at any cost often don't do thorough background checks because they'd rather not know what's there. In other words, if the player is cleared by the NCAA, that's good enough for the school (even though the Derrick Rose case proved that the NCAA clearing a prospect hardly clears a school from future NCAA problems).

"Sometimes, I think, some schools may take the stance, 'We're just going to follow the rules as they dictate and only do what we're required to do,'" Buckner said. "... The NCAA gives schools a false sense of security when they clear a player to play. Then issues come up afterward."

In fairness to Kentucky, Bledsoe was going to play somewhere last season. Had he signed with Memphis, he would've played at Memphis. Had he signed with Florida, he would've played at Florida. But the reality of the situation is that the one-and-done prospect signed with Kentucky under a new and high-profile coach (John Calipari) who has had two Final Fours vacated, and, as Buckner noted, Kentucky should've known that alone would invite the type of scrutiny that led to the New York Times reporting last week that Bledsoe might've accepted extra benefits while in high school while making an unusual jump academically to meet freshman eligibility standards.

"That just raises the stakes," Buckner said. "'We need to do everything right. We need to dot i's, cross t's because we know people are going to look at the recruiting class in Calipari's first year, and subsequent years.'"

Instead, Kentucky chose to not take a stand, which isn't a surprise given that no athletics director has ever been able to properly stand up to Calipari and tell him something was off-limits the way multiple athletics directors told their coaches last year they could not enroll Lance Stephenson. Kentucky left Bledsoe's status up to the NCAA and only the NCAA without recognizing that its new coach's old school had just been burned by that same approach.

Again, in fairness to Kentucky, this is the way most schools do things. But it's becoming clear that UK must take a different approach with Calipari because if the school doesn't investigate thoroughly, various media outlets will, at which point an issue that could've been avoided can become an embarrassing problem that garners national headlines.

Since: Apr 6, 2010
Posted on: June 4, 2010 10:58 am

UK should've known better, investigator says

How about the pumps have access to Kansas tickets and their AAU program has funneled  10 players on Kansas' roster. Don't be such an idiot. You are correct to be outraged about this story--there isn't much information, and the information available points--not to Kentucky and Calipari--but to either Bledsoe and/or his high school coach.

But to turn around and then do the exact same thing by tossing out a completely baseless allegation about Kansas is absurd. Yes, the Pump Brothers, who own the Pump & Run youth basketball teams, have gotten access to Kansas tickets illicitly--in other words, they were ripping Kansas off by having them, via a handful of scammers in the ticket office. But there are so many diconnects between that fact and the idea that they directed players to Kansas, it's not even funny.

1) The Pump Brothers own the organization--there is no evidence that they have anything to do with the individual coaches and players on the teams--certainly not with directing the players to any given program.

2) There is nothing unusual about a major college basketball program like the University of Kansas looking for potential recruits in places where talent is amassed--places like AAU-style youth basketball teams. The fact that there are multiple players from these various teams means nothing.

3) Some of the recruits in question weren't even top-rated recruits, and many of them were from the Kansas City area Pump & Run teams. Do you really think Kansas would be engaged in some sort of quid pro quo with the Pump Brothers to convince guys like Connor Teahan, Brady Morningstar, Travis Releford and Tyrel Reed (all Kansas or Kansas City guys) to come to the University of Kansas?

4) By the way, those 10 players are since 2003.

Hypocrite much?

Since: Jun 2, 2010
Posted on: June 3, 2010 8:11 pm

UK should've known better, investigator says

If you have any proof otherwise, I'll be happy to listen.  Otherwise it's just "blah, blah, blah" and "waaaaaaa!!!".  So, let's have it.

Since: Apr 2, 2008
Posted on: June 3, 2010 4:50 pm

Calipari has been cleared

According to UK fans Calipari has done nothing wrong at Memphis, UMASS and UK. Cal has been cleared.

All other fans are just jealous of Kentucky because of their success. Cal's one and done players go to Kentucky because Adolph Rupp coached there in 1948.

Cheating can't happen at Kentucky because Sandy Bell is watching over John Calipari and World Wide Wes.

Cal is not going to the NBA. He will coach at Kentucky forever. Calipari tweeted he is staying, so it must be true.

Keep drinking the Blue Kool Aid.

Since: Nov 3, 2008
Posted on: June 3, 2010 7:11 am

UK should've known better, investigator says

The NYT didn't 'come up' with this story.  They reported on what the NCAA is doing and why.

Since: Apr 24, 2009
Posted on: June 3, 2010 1:53 am

UK should've known better- Duh!!!!

Let's all agree that Eric Bledsoe is probably a great kid - dealt a bad hand relative to economic and academic upbringing. Let's not bag on him.  He has worked hard to get the most out his athletic ability and will soon be making mega bucks in the league so his mom won't have to worry about paying rent.

Reality is that Cal should have known better - especially after the Derrick Rose (another WWW nephew - turn your head) affair at Memphis.  Bledsoe was being recruited hard by Glynn Cyprien working for Gillespie at Kentucky during 08-09.  Bledsoe was being recruited hard by Josh Pastner working for Cal at Mempis ever since he arrived in '08.  As good a player as Bledsoe was, very few schools offered - only Memphis, Alabama, Cinci ( do we need to mention the carnival of fear of Born Ready's amateur status), Florida, and Kentucky. Duke, Carolina (could they have used a point guard),Maryland and others backed out. Handwriting was on the wall - an apparent non-qualifier in '08 followed by an out of district transfer with a huge academic improvement (but no associated relocation employment on the part of his mother), and a wild new demanding coach. 

UK was already going to be good - Cousins, Wall, and Patterson returning.  Bledsoe was the one that Cal apparently felt would put put him over the edge and finally get him a national title.  We will have to wait and see - if the rent deal proves out (set aside the difficulty of proving the academic side of things) Bledsoe will clearly have forfeited his amateur status most likely with no knowledge on his part. If the NCAA then employs the "strict accountability" tact they took with Memphis in regards to Rose's SAT UK can say goodbye to all the wins.

The high school coach (ego aside) will always justify whatever he did (rent & grades) as helping a young black man break the cycle and get out to "the other side".  Another example of the dark side of basketball and the influence peddling of "handlers" and "uncles" whether they be high school or AAU coaches or just family friends.

But ultimately, Cal should have known better!  In this case, greed and ego may negate a great season from Wall, Cousins, Patterson, et al and put Carolina at the head of the all time win list.

Since: Sep 7, 2008
Posted on: June 3, 2010 1:32 am

"In fairness to UK", that's an oxymoron

This guy is a random PI with no apparent expertise in college recruiting or the specifics of this case. Jerry Tipton had this story written in his mind before even talking to this PI and just found a guy to quote so he could write his usual stuff.

What should UK have known better about? Taking a player who was eligible and is still eligible right now? You talk as if he's already been ruled retro-actively ineligible. All indications are the compliance dept at UK, which is very good, looked into Bledsoe extensively before he played at UK so implying he was just accepted with no scrutiny is false.

Some media members have broke the wall of silence and actually spoke out against the witch hunt in the media against Calipari and UK that you tacitly admit exists in your final paragraph. Andrew Sharp's article was spot on as anyone who doesn't see what's going on here isn't paying attention.

Uconn just got charged with 8, count them 8, major violations and Calhoun, a hall of fame coach, was cited with failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance but the story about a UK player who was eligible and is still eligible is headlining sports pages. Sport's journalism is officially a thing of the past and it's time writers just admitted it and told everyone that I'm a comedian who writes fiction with some facts scattered in, enjoy.

Btw, UK is one of the schools that turned down Lance Stephenson.

Since: Jun 2, 2010
Posted on: June 2, 2010 7:34 pm

UK should've known better, investigator says

Am I missing something here?

1)  His high school coach might have paid $1200 in rent for him and his mom.  So?  What's wrong with that?  It's not like he's a booster or agent.  Heck, he didn't even want Bledsoe to go to UK.  If a kid gets a trophy or participated in a Christmas gift swap is he somehow ineligible.  I don't get it.

2)  His grades seem fishy.  So?  Do they have any proof of any wrong doing?  Did the NCAA clear him?

I think it's sad that the NYT was so desperate for a story that this is what they came up with.  And of course, not to be left out, guys like Parrish (not blaming him they all do it) jump on it even though they know it's not a story.

Finally, some lawyer in Florida says Cal should have known.  First of all, known what?  Second of all, who cares lol.  What does this guy know about it anymore than anyone else.  I'm a lawyer in Georgia and I say (if anything did happen) there is no way Cal knew lol.  I'm just as credible as some random source.  Sad that this is what reporting has come to and sad that Parrish was willing to run with it.  I doubt he's that dumb.

Since: Nov 3, 2008
Posted on: June 2, 2010 6:51 pm

UK should've known better, investigator says

As much as UK fans are going on about how everyone's out to get them, I don't think that's the case.  Out of curiosity, I listened to yesterday's podcast of Gary's radio show.  He and Geoff Calkins mention they know of two publications who had higher-ups call off investigations of Calipari's recruiting, one being ESPN killing an investigation of Calipari and Laurinburg Prep, a school the NCAA will no longer accept transcripts from.  Gary, care to tell us what the second organization was?  CBS?  I could see it given how closely intertwined CBS' fortunes are with the SEC.


Since: Jun 2, 2010
Posted on: June 2, 2010 6:44 pm

UK should've known better, investigator says

enjoyed your tweet-chat with matt today - but tipton really should put a little more journalistic effort in seeking out "sources" to quote.

Since: Sep 18, 2008
Posted on: June 2, 2010 4:46 pm

UK should've known better, investigator says

Unless there is full disclosure sooner, everything will be perfectly clear come July. That's when LeBron James will know what team he will play for next season. And if that rumored LeBron-Cal package happens, then UK is in trouble. See, Calipari really never does anything wrong. He just bolts when his school gets in trouble because he has no intention of coaching a team that has no chance of getting him a national title. And scholarship limits or post-season bans or both will make that happen. It will scare off recruits. One-and-dones and John Calipari are a volatile combination. Makes me wonder what he would do career-wise if the NBA changed their rules and let high school seniors in again.

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