The University of Memphis will tell the NCAA on Saturday that it could not have known that basketball player Derrick Rose was ineligible in the 2007-2008 season for faking an entrance exam.
"Certainly, the University of Memphis should not suffer a financial penalty or vacation of records for the 2008 NCAA tournament as a result of this allegation," the university says, in records it released to the media Tuesday morning.
The meeting in Indianapolis Saturday will include U of M president Shirley Raines, athletic director R.C. Johnson, legal counsel, and — via teleconference — former head coach John Calipari. Rose and current head coach Josh Pastner will not attend. University legal counsel Sheri Lipman said it could be six to eight weeks before there is a decision. In the worst case, Memphis would forfeit games in which Rose appeared.
The 63-page "Response to NCAA Notice of Allegations" doesn't clear up the mystery of Rose and the SAT entrance exam. In fact, only about a fourth of it deals with Rose; half of it is about women's golf coach Jenny Bruun, who was fired for giving illegal gifts to student athletes. The university also admits to an "administrative error" in allowing a friend of Rose to travel with the team without paying some bills.
The report says there were rumors about Rose getting someone to take his ACT or SAT test in 2007, but the unnamed female accuser changed her story. Another rumor that Rose got a grade changed in one course was also investigated by the Chicago schools and the University of Memphis but was deemed irrelevant to his admission.
The ACT and SAT — Rose apparently took both — is relevant. The NCAA, relying on a forensic document examiner as well as allegations, concluded that Rose probably did not take his own SAT, but the university did not know that while Rose was playing ball.
Rose, according to the report, said he did take his own tests when he was asked about that before the 2008 NCAA tournament, but he "has declined to participate further in the investigation of his ineligibility." He now plays for the Chicago Bulls of the NBA.
Calipari's name appears only twice in the report — once in regard to Rose and once in regard to games passes for Calipari's "friend" William Wesley. The university investigated and concluded there wasn't sufficient evidence of an NCAA violation on the games passes.
The U of M says Calipari was told to cooperate in the Rose matter.
"The consistent response received by the university is that [Rose] took the test at issue [and] has answered questions about this already in the fall of 2007 interview with the university."
The university interviewed Rose about possible grade changes and test fakery in 2007. The basketball coaches didn't know when he took the tests or what his scores were.
"In fact, [Rose] testified that his mother would not even tell him what his scores were after he took the test, but instead would only say whether he passed it or needed to take it again. He took the standardized test several times," the report says.
The evidence on the SAT test on which Rose was admitted was considered insufficient to keep him out of school. He led the team to a 38-2 record and second place in the NCAA tournament in April 2008. Meanwhile, he was either dodging or not receiving query letters from testing organizations about possible problems. In May 2008, the U of M and the NCAA got a letter from Educational Testing Service saying that Rose's test score had been invalidated. The season was already over, as was Rose's life as a student athlete.
The bottom line:
"The university does not have sufficient information to conclude that [redacted] engaged in unethical conduct in regard to [redacted] taking of the SAT. Specifically, the university has no knowledge that [Rose] did not complete the SAT. Accordingly, the university does not know whether the information included in the allegation is substantially correct and is unable to conclude whether a violation of the cited NCAA regulations has occurred."
The university got a notice of allegations on January 16, 2009, but did not disclose it until a Commercial Appeal reporter forced it to last week.