Former Memphis standout Rose is reportedly at center of investigation

Friday, May 29, 2009
Memphis coach John Calipari talks with Memphis guard Derrick Rose during a game in the 2008 NCAA tournament. Rose, who led Memphis to the national title game, is reportedly at the center of an NCAA investigation of major violations during that season. (Associated Press file)

Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson Thursday defended the Tigers men's basketball program of any wrongdoings, but wouldn't confirm that Derrick Rose is the player at the center of alleged major NCAA violations.

"We wouldn't play anybody if we hadn't checked it out pretty thoroughly," Johnson said.

In a letter to the school, obtained by The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, the NCAA says 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 NCAA says an unknown person took the SAT for the player, who then used that test to get into Memphis. The NCAA Clearinghouse vets players' test scores and academic standing.

Johnson would not identify the player involved for privacy reasons. However, he said the player is cooperating with Memphis' thorough investigation into allegations.

"Nobody has thrown up any road blocks. We're trying to get it resolved and do it the right way," Johnson said.

The NCAA has asked Memphis to provide copies of the SAT and a Sept. 2, 2008, report by a forensic document examiner who studied the handwriting in the SAT.

Rose was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft by Chicago and this season's rookie of the year.

Memphis was notified Jan. 16 of the potentially major violations in the men's basketball program and will appear June 6 in Indianapolis before the NCAA Committee on Infractions for a hearing.

Johnson declined to provide any details on what Memphis has found in its investigation prior to the hearing.

"We've been working on this for some time and continue to get our final presentation finalized and make sure we dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts," Johnson said.

New Memphis coach Josh Pastner told the AP that he wasn't aware of the allegations when offered the job in April to replace John 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."

The biggest penalty Memphis is facing would be forfeiting the 38 wins and the Final Four trip with no scholarship reductions expected.

Kentucky president Lee Todd reiterated in a statement Thursday that his university was aware of the inquiry while interviewing Calipari and added that this was issue between Memphis and the NCAA.

"We are confident that Coach Calipari was not involved in any way," Todd said. "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."

The alleged violations occurred under Calipari, who left March 31 to take over at Kentucky. Calipari was told by the NCAA in a letter that he was not at risk of being charged with any violations in the case, according to a statement by Kentucky.

Calipari said in the statement that he would fully cooperate with the NCAA's hearing and had no further comment.

AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.

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