- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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University of Kentucky compliance officials plan to discuss a Birmingham school board decision Friday to uphold former Wildcats guard Eric Bledsoe's high school grades with the NCAA's Eligibility Center on Monday.
Bledsoe's grades allowed him to be eligible for his one season at Kentucky in which the Wildcats won 35 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. He was selected in the first round of the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Birmingham school board hired an independent law firm to review Bledsoe's course work during his junior and senior years in high school at Hayes High and Parker High. The law firm submitted their report to Birmingham superintendent Craig Witherspoon on Friday.
"We're going to review the report and then we'll work with the University of Kentucky to see if that has any impact," said Chuck Wynne, the NCAA's director of communication strategy. "That's the process. The bylaws obligate schools to work with us and Kentucky will work with our Eligibility Center and membership services. We review the report and then a decision would be made. The process has to play out."
In response to the statement issued by the NCAA, Kentucky spokesperson DeWayne Peevey said, "it is our understanding that the matter is closed."
A source who read the report said since the Birmingham school board didn't indicate Bledsoe would be given a new transcript so it is highly unlikely there would be any change in Bledsoe's eligibility for the 2009-10 season. The Eligibility Center needs a new transcript from a student-athlete to consider reversing a previous decision.
If there is no new transcript, and there won't be since the report said the investigation is over, then there would be no need to alter Bledsoe's eligibility.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who was with his ill mother in Charlotte, N.C., declined comment saying the school was handling the matter.
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart issued a statement Friday night: "Eric Bledsoe was a part of our normal institutional process, the NCAA's normal eligibility cycle and a more extensive secondary review by the NCAA eligibility center as well. We maintain our reliance on the high school, university and NCAA eligibility center for initial eligibility and will continue to do so. At no point was the University of Kentucky under investigation by the NCAA nor had any reason to believe we were ever under investigation."
The report said Bledsoe completed makeup work to justify a higher grade in an algebra course during the 2008-2009 school year. The mark was switched from an "C" to an "A" after the work was done, the teacher of the course told investigtors.
Witherspoon said an investigation found no documentation to justify the improvement. But, he says, an investigation didn't prove that it was improper, either.
The report showed that the grades were "changed by the instructor, and that the reasons given for the changes are not credible. To the extent that we were provided the requisite grade books for comparison with [Bledsoe's] official transcript, we did not find any other substantial grade changes for his high school courses except noted above."
The independent report said the instructor changed Bledsoe's grades "far more frequently than those of any other students in his class."
The report said the grade books in question were required to be "maintained for three years after the entry of grades in the student's records," per Alabama regulations. But the Birmingham School system was informed the junior year grade books from Hayes High, which has since closed, were missing and that meant the board was unable to determine whether any grades at Hayes high were changed.
The report said Bledsoe's transcript showed he took 15 courses at Parker High during the 2008-09 season but only six of those grade books were obtained. The report stated in the first term in 2008-09, 10 of 14 scores/grades as well as a final grade were "conspicuously changed." The report said the scores/grades were "written over to reflect higher grades." The report said in the second term in 2008-09 that seven of 10 scores/grades as well as the final grade 'were conspicuously changed." The same comment in the report stated that "the original scores/grades were written over to reflect higher scores/grades."
Witherspoon said the report completed the Birmingham school board's investigation. Without a new transcript, the NCAA investigation will also be closed.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.