The meeting that sealed the fate of the University of Memphis basketball program with the NCAA cops took place in November 2007.
Basketball fans and the public know only that former Tiger Derrick Rose was questioned about his ACT and SAT scores at that meeting by university officials and coaches. Earlier that year, Rose took the ACT three times in Chicago and the SAT once in Detroit, where he finally made a score that gave him eligibility to play basketball.
The university took Rose at his word that he didn't have anyone take the test for him, even though entrance test performance over four tries in a short time is as predictable as a bench press, sprint time, or vertical jump. The 2007-2008 season had not started. There was still time to keep Rose off the team, but he played, and the rest is history.
Coach John Calipari, athletic director R.C. Johnson, and President Shirley Raines are taking the heat for the NCAA's decision to strip Memphis of its 38 wins and championship game banner. But Rose is the one who should be on the hot seat. The university's appeal of the NCAA decision has about as much chance as an 80-foot heave. The person who should take the last shot is Rose.
Rose knows what scores he made on the SAT and ACT even though those scores are blacked out in public documents and cannot be released by the testing services without his permission.
Rose knows whether someone took one or more of the tests for him, causing the score to be canceled, which happens to only one out of 6,000 tests.
Rose knows why he took the SAT in Detroit.
Rose knows what Calipari and U of M coaches told him after he had failed to make a high enough score on the ACT three times.
Rose knows what any outside adviser told him about this problem that could make or break his college career, which was his audition for his professional career.
Rose knows what his own handwriting looks like. He knows he could easily disprove or prove the findings of forensic document examiner Lee Ann Harmless in a September 2008 report that concludes he probably had someone else take the SAT.
Rose knows what he was asked and what he answered during that meeting in Memphis in November, which, like the SAT score and the handwriting analysis, has been completely eliminated from the publicly available university response.
Rose knows why he refused to take part in any investigations by the testing service or the NCAA on six occasions in 2008 and 2009.
Rose knows why he didn't answer certified letters from the Educational Testing Service that were sent to his home in Chicago in April and May of 2008 offering him three ways to clear his name. Rose knows why he declined to meet with NCAA investigators in June of 2008, August of 2008, January of 2009, and March of 2009 — all dates before the NCAA sanctions were imposed.
Rose knows that his cooperation, if he has nothing to hide, could have taken the heat off the University of Memphis. And he knows that if he does have something to hide, his cooperation could identify others who deserve blame or vindication.
Rose knows why his only "explanation" to date consists of a few brief comments saying he took his own tests.
It would be wildly inaccurate to call the University of Memphis Rose's alma mater and a stretch to suggest he was a student athlete in any meaningful sense of the word. He was an entertainer who made a lot of money for the university and himself.
But he is a man, too, who, like the rest of us, has to face himself in the mirror every day. If he does nothing, no matter how great a professional ballplayer he becomes, he will always be known as the ineligible player who cost Memphis a season that branded its basketball program as an outlaw.
If he fully explains himself, it won't be easy. It will be harder than making those free throws at the end of the Kansas game.
But superstars want the ball at crunch time.
Come on, Derrick, you're the man. Tell what happened before the clock runs out on the appeal. A lot of damage has been done, but you can still clear it up. Take the ball.