Report: Rose may have cheated on SAT

Updated: May 28, 2009, 4:45 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Memphis men's basketball program has been charged by the NCAA with major violations during the 2007-08 season under former coach John Calipari.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal first reported the story on Wednesday after obtaining a letter detailing the allegations through the Freedom of Information Act.

The allegations include "knowing fraudulence or misconduct" on an SAT exam by a player on the 2007-08 team.

The wording of the letter to Memphis indicates that the player in question competed only during the 2007-08 season and the 2008 NCAA tournament. The player's name was redacted in the letter due to privacy laws.

Sources told ESPN.com Wednesday night that Derrick Rose was the player in question. He played only one season for Memphis before being selected as the first pick in the 2008 draft by the Chicago Bulls.

The letter also alleged that Memphis provided $2,260 in free travel to road games for an associate of a player. The NCAA is charging Memphis with a failure to monitor.

If the NCAA allegations are proved true, Memphis might have to forfeit its NCAA-record 38 victories and Final Four appearance.

Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson on Thursday defended the men's basketball program. "We wouldn't play anybody if we hadn't checked it out pretty thoroughly," Johnson told The Associated Press.

Luther Topps, who coached Rose's AAU team, told the Chicago Sun-Times he's known about the NCAA's investigation for several weeks and said he thinks the NCAA believes a former high school teammate of Rose's took the SAT for Rose.

Memphis received the notice of allegations on Jan. 16 and is scheduled to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions June 6. The probe was initiated over charges of improprieties in the women's golf program at Memphis. Former women's golf coach Jenny Bruun is alleged to have provided $3,115.70 in extra benefits for players.

A source within the Memphis program told ESPN.com "the current [basketball] team will 100 percent not be penalized." The source does not expect a reduction in scholarships, should the school be found to have violated NCAA rules.

New Memphis coach Josh Pastner told The Associated Press on Thursday that he wasn't aware of the allegations when offered the job in April to replace Calipari.

"It's nothing that will affect the current team, which I believe," said Pastner, who first joined the staff as an assistant in June 2008. "I can't comment anymore than that."

Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky on March 31. The NCAA has requested his presence at the hearing, although he is not named in the report.

"Even though I'm not at risk, I will fully cooperate with the NCAA hearing," Calipari said in a statement. "... [I] will have no further comment."

Calipari is expected to talk to the NCAA before Tuesday when he leaves for China, Kentucky associate athletic director for media relations DeWayne Peevy said. A year ago, Calipari and a collection of Conference USA all-stars traveled to China to exchange basketball ideas. Calipari would likely speak to the Committee on Infractions in a teleconference because he wouldn't be able to attend the June hearing.

Johnson told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that Memphis has been investigating the test score and women's golf infractions for months.

"We still have to determine if the test score was fraudulent," Johnson said.

After that is determined, Memphis will investigate whether anyone at the school knew about a fraudulent test.

Johnson said the student-athlete who is alleged to have been involved is cooperating. Johnson said if something were to be discovered in terms of violations, "nothing would happen to [current Memphis coach] Josh Pastner."

Peevy told ESPN.com on Wednesday that Calipari was up-front with Kentucky prior to his hiring. He said Kentucky was made aware of the allegation.

"It's important to note that there are no allegations against John Calipari in the report," Peevy said.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Kentucky said: "It is normal procedure for the NCAA to ask a former coach to participate in a hearing. Therefore, Coach Calipari will participate as requested.

"Coach John Calipari has received a letter from the NCAA stating that he is not at risk of being charged with any NCAA violations in this case.

"This is a University of Memphis issue and the University of Kentucky will not comment any further."

Lee Todd, the school's president, confirmed again in a statement released Thursday that Kentucky knew of the NCAA investigation of Memphis.

"The University of Kentucky was made aware of the NCAA inquiry at the University of Memphis during the interview process and we are confident that Coach Calipari was not involved in any way. He was very open with us about what he was aware of at that particular time, and since this is an issue between the University of Memphis and the NCAA and not a UK issue, we will not be commenting further on anything related to this situation."

Kentucky assured its boosters when it hired Calipari it had done its due diligence in checking his background.

"Sandy Bell and the compliance folks talked with the NCAA and checked records and facts," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said April 1 when Calipari was introduced at Kentucky. "David Price, other people at the high level with the NCAA, assured us how much they enjoyed working with John in that process.

"We have all had our critics about how we manage and lead our programs. For seven years I've had my share and I've been through it. Our commitment at the University of Kentucky to compliance and discipline has always been strong, and that will not change. John's commitment to compliance and discipline has always been strong, and that will not change."

Interestingly, Price, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement, issued the NCAA letter sent to Memphis that detailed the infractions.

Calipari has been involved in NCAA violations in the past. After his 1995-96 Final Four season at Massachusetts, it was discovered center Marcus Camby had accepted money and gifts from two sports agents. The NCAA forced UMass to forfeit all 35 victories from that season and vacate its Final Four appearance and banner.

Information from ESPN.com reporters Andy Katz and Dana O'Neil and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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