September 14, 2010
It was easy for Kentucky fans to dismiss a New York Times report questioning the legitimacy of Eric Bledsoe's high school grades a few months ago because the story contained more accusations than hard evidence.
It will be far harder for them to discount the thorough follow-up report published in Tuesday morning's Birmingham News.
Only days before the results of an independent law firm's investigation of Bledsoe's high school grades will be released, the News wrote a story examining some disc
repancies in his transcript. Among the key issues is a night school grade report from Birmingham's Parker High School that shows that Bledsoe had a C average in two sessions of an algebra class in which his final transcript shows he made an A.
According to the paper, Bledsoe had never earned higher than a C in math during his first three years in high school. Equally curious, he received his A in Algebra 3 one semester before he even took Algebra 2.
The Algebra 3 grade was part of an improbable academic transformation Bledsoe made to meet the NCAA's minimum eligibility standards after transferring to Parker for his senior year. Had he scored a C in that class instead of an A, he would not have been academically eligible to play college basketball last season at Kentucky, the News reports.
Bledsoe, of course, had a brilliant freshman season, teaming with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins to lead the Wildcats to an SEC championship and an appearance in the Elite Eight. The Los Angeles Clippers selected the freshman guard in the first round of the NBA draft after he opted to turn pro last spring.
You can certainly make the case that Kentucky shouldn't be penalized if Bledsoe is retroactively ruled ineligible because the NCAA cleared him to play, but past history shows that the Wildcats' 35-win season could be expunged from the record books. It was never proven that either Memphis or John Calipari had any reason to suspect that point guard Derrick Rose's SAT scores were invalid, yet there's still an asterisk next to the Tigers' 38-2 season in 2008.
If the same thing were to happen at Kentucky, it would represent another blow to Calipari, whose legacy as one of the most successful coaches of his era has been tarnished by violations that occurred under his watch. The teams at UMass and Memphis that Calipari led to the Final Four both had their records expunged by the NCAA, the former because Marcus Camby accepted thousands of dollars from a sports agent and the latter because of the Rose fiasco.