Report: NCAA Probing Ex-Kentucky Guard Eric Bledsoe
The New York Times is reporting that the eligibility of former Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe is being investigated by the NCAA. According to the Times' report, Bledsoe, who averaged 11.0 points and 3.0 assists before leaving college after his freshman season for the NBA, is under investigation for his academic transcript, living situation, potential rent payment and other unsundry details. Also included is an allegation that Bledsoe's high school coach, Maurice Ford, demanded payment for steering his star player to the school.
"A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford (Bledsoe's high school coach) explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university," the Times reported. "The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother. Ford denied this, saying, 'I don't prostitute my kids.'"
He said he had done nothing wrong, adding: "I'm a poor black man. And when one black man tries to help another black man, there's always something wrong."
The NCAA has yet to notify Kentucky of its inquiry, but typically the schools are not notified of any investigation until the NCAA has completed its initial inquiry to determine the legitimacy of the allegations. But based on the details included in the New York Times' piece, the university can likely look forward to that notice arriving from the NCAA.
And who, one wonders, is the head coach that Eric Bledsoe played for last year?
None other than first-year Kentucky coach John Calipari. You may remember Coach Calipari from such vacated Final Four appearances as 1996 at UMass and 2008 at Memphis. (I still wonder, where did the banners go? Do they throw them away? Burn them? Does Calipari have them in his garage?) Thankfully for Kentucky fans, Calipari didn't make the Final Four this past season despite having the most talent in college basketball. So worst case, if the wins are vacated, you save money on banner removals.
Now, once more, the NCAA's own Teflon Don finds himself at the center of a burgeoning NCAA investigation.
And if you're a Kentucky fan, isn't it time to go ahead and cut the cord? (Even if, as I'm sure Kentucky fans will argue until they're blue in the face, Calipari has yet to be individually implicated in any of the vacated wins that seem to follow him like a dark cloud.)
I think the answer is yes.
And I'll tell you why.
First, Eric Bledsoe only came to Kentucky because John Calipari arrived there and recruited him. That was, oh by the way, before he was "qualified" to play basketball. Prior to arriving at Kentucky, Cal was also recruiting Bledsoe to Memphis so don't buy the arguments that somehow Kentucky's former coach is to blame for this. Read that recruiting article here. In May 2009, when Bledsoe committed to Kentucky he said, "If Cal had stayed in Memphis, I would have signed with Florida. I wanted to play in the SEC."
Somewhere Billy Donovan is slowly exhaling.
Second, Kentucky's program and its fans are better than this, better than being the equivalent of a politician's wife who gets trotted out in front of the news media to prove that they still love one another even though one member of the union is a cheater. Better than being the desperate dirty program that gives a dirtier coach the cover to cheat once more.
Especially when he's leaving you if he gets the opportunity to coach LeBron James.
Third, Calipari's two top recruits for the class of 2010, Brandon Knight and Terrance Jones, haven't even committed themselves to the university. They've signed grant-in-aids to see what happens with Calipari.
Think about this, your coach isn't selling your program, he's selling himself.
Fourth, Kentucky is an illustrious basketball program, the winningest in the history of college basketball ... for the moment. By continuing to cling to Coach Calipari and the dark side of college athletics, the program gains nothing and risks years of recovery.
Frankly, it's beneath Kentucky basketball.
You get the sense that someone needs to grab the Big Blue faithful by their lapels and shake them.
Repeat after me Wildcat fans, Calipari needs UK, not vice-versa.
All of you.
As is, after just one year on the dark side, Kentucky might be celebrating an ignominious feat: becoming the first program in the history of college athletics to win 2,000 games.
But before we spend too much time casting stones, let's give Coach Calipari some credit.
He may be on the verge of bringing his own brand of the Triple Crown to the Bluegrass, three programs, three vacated seasons.
At least he's put his name on a Maker's Mark bottle. If you want to stick with him, start drinking that bourbon now, Kentucky fans. Because it's going to be a long, drunk summer.