Commentary

A sad day for college hoops

Updated: August 21, 2009, 2:27 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The NCAA has come out with its findings in its case against the University of Memphis. The school must vacate its 38 wins and championship game appearance from the 2007-08 season because of several major infractions.

It is a sad day for college basketball. After watching the beautiful performance of Rose and the Tigers against the Kansas Jayhawks down in San Antonio, it is a shame that it was tainted.

At least the NCAA didn't penalize innocent kids. New coach Josh Pastner and his kids won't suffer from this ruling. Throughout the years, it has bothered me when student-athletes have been punished for the actions of others.

Former Memphis coach John Calipari was vindicated of any wrongdoing but still has to deal with the fact that two schools he led to the Final Four had their records vacated. Coaches have to be held accountable for the actions of their programs.

Some people will say Calipari has gotten off easy. Those who are anti-Calipari will say it says a lot that two schools where he has coached will have their Final Four trips vacated. In a way, that is punishment enough.

Those who side with Calipari will say he was never implicated in the issues over Rose's test exams. He was not involved in Marcus Camby's acceptance of money from an agent while at Massachusetts. Those pro-Calipari people will take the high road.

Knowing Calipari and the pride he has in his ability, he will take the negatives as a personal affront and an insult. He will prepare his Kentucky team to lace up the sneakers and get ready for the 2009-10 campaign. Many believe the Wildcats are a Final Four contender for this season.

Now Calipari has to make sure he dots the I's and crosses the T's in Lexington. He will be under more scrutiny than ever, and he must make sure that nobody representing his program makes a mistake. Assistant coaches and athletic department members all will be under a microscope.

Big Blue fans have such incredible passion and love for the game. Yes, my friends, there is a lot of pressure to win there.

It will be interesting to see how Calipari responds to this challenge. He was cleared by the NCAA, yet there will be critics who take their shots at him.

I have said it many times: Whenever you have a talented player who is at risk academically, the potential for trouble exists. If you have a kid with great basketball ability but is surrounded by an entourage and advisers trying to help with decision-making, you are opening the door for trouble.

When it is all said and done, people involved have other interests. Usually those are colored green. It's always cash, cash, cash in the long run.

I feel bad for all the Memphis kids not involved in the Rose situation, players who busted a gut and sweated, giving everything they had to bring pride to the uniform they wore. They made that journey to the final game, and now there is an empty feeling because of poor judgment. Memphis will rebound from this. Hopefully the program will learn from this indiscretion.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.