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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Troubling Lack of Outrage in the Derrick Rose Scandal

According to the Memphis Courant, there is a growing scandal surrounding Derrick Rose, currently of the Bulls.

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.


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.

If the allegations are accurate not only did Rose have another student take the SAT's for him but he even had his grade changed temporarily. All of this lead Rose to being able to qualify to play for Memphis in their run to the national championship game. It means that Memphis played that entire season with an ineligible player. They cheated the entire basketball world.

Worse yet, all those directly involved are now not around to face any punishment. Rose has taken his skills to a multi million dollar contract in the NBA with the Bulls. John Calipari has moved onto Kentucky. The program was likely to sputter without Calipari and now it will be damaged in a way that will take a very prolonged time to recover.

What's more troubling is the lack of outrage by most of the media. This story has certainly gotten coverage but not nearly the coverage it deserves. If true, Rose cheated and by extension so did the entire Memphis basketball program. He didn't have the grades to qualify to play Division 1 college basketball so he cheated to be able to do it. That's absolutely no different than Manny Ramirez using performance enhancing drugs. Cheating is cheating and one reason it goes on so often is that there is a lack of moral outrage when it happens. Ramirez is currently in line to get enough fan votes to make the all star game.

In fact, those that comment on it often attempt to blame the system for this. Rick Morrissey does this very thing today in the Chicago Tribune.

Everything about the way Derrick Rose plays basketball says he cares about the concept of "team." He's unselfish. He's a wonderful passer. He's as far away from having a me-first attitude as a worker ant is.Everything about the allegations of fraudulent test-taking and grade-changing suggest he or the people around him never really cared about anything beyond his pursuit of an NBA career.


If the NBA were a realistic goal from early on, how much could Rose's state titles at Simeon and his one year at Memphis have meant to him? That's the problem with the AAU-dominated world in which we live. There's a toe-tapping impatience all around when it comes to an extremely talented basketball player. We're always talking about "the next level," with the clear implication that the current level doesn't mean squat.

Morrissey makes the point that this case points out the absurdity of not allowing those that clearly want to pursue a basketball career of not pursuing it at their own schedule. In Europe, players are allowed to enter into basketball academy in their youths. They can play for money in their teens. In the U.S. we force our NBA players to be at least one year out of high school forcing most high school prospects to spend a year in college. That's the only reason Rose even went to Memphis, because he was forced.

All of this maybe true but none of it excuses the cheating that Rose engaged in. One of the biggest problems with cheating in sports is that we often refuse to call it for what it is. Folks like Gaylord Perry spend their entire career cheating and they were rewarded with an induction into the Hall of Fame. The stigma of cheating has faded and the rewards have long outweighed the potential pitfalls. Last summer, I wrote about Eric Gagne. Here was a baseball player that was a marginal talent. He was barely making major league rosters. Then, he exploded onto the scene suddenly and he now owns an MLB record for consecutive saves and a Cy Young. We have since learned that during the time of his dominance he was also mentioned in the Mitchell Report. In other words, not only his entire career but frankly life has been manufactured. He cheated his way to fame, fortune, records, and wealth. He also took all those away from someone that didn't cheat like him. His punishment for all this is a current contract valued in the neighborhood of 10 million yearly.

Rose cheated and wound up playing Division 1 basketball when he should have played at a junior college or in Europe. As a result, the team he played for wound up going to the National Championship game when they likely would have been knocked out in the regionals. Almost everyone associated with that team is now gone and bettered professionally and financially of their association with Rose. All of it helped ultimately by cheating. So far, no one who deserves any of the punishment will get punished. So, where is the lesson?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now compare Rose to Brandon Jennings. Jennings didn't have the grades to play at Arizona, so he admitted it and went to Rome. While he made money and supported his mom and little brother, by all accounts his ordeal was considerably tougher than beating up on extremely over-matched Conference USA tomato cans.

I think what we're seeing is a rebellion. Players have taken the attitude that if we can't change the system, we're just not going to care about taking advantage of it.