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Sport How James Wiseman's NCAA lawsuit features shades of the Derrick Rose case at Memphis

19:01  12 november  2019
19:01  12 november  2019 Source:   commercialappeal.com

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The ongoing saga between James Wiseman, the University of Memphis and the NCAA has also rekindled memories of the last time Memphis basketball battled with the NCAA over the eligibility of one of its star freshmen. 

Who can forget Derrick Rose, the magic he created as part of the Tigers' 2008 Final Four team and the controversial eligibility decision that still irks Memphis fans to this day?

So what happened, and how does it relate to today? Here's a summary: 

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How it started

The Derrick Rose case revolved around a qualifying SAT score Rose received after taking the test in Detroit in May 2007. Once allegations surfaced that someone other than Rose may have taken the test, an investigation was initiated by the Educational Testing Service. Rose played the entire 2007-08 season because Memphis believed at the time he was eligible. Rose did not cooperate with the investigation. As a result, the ETS invalidated Rose’s SAT score in May 2008. For the NCAA, that made him retroactively ineligible for the 2008 season.

What did the NCAA do?

In August 2009, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced that Memphis’ 2008 national championship game run was to be wiped from the record books and all wins from its 38-2 season vacated after ruling that Rose played the season while academically ineligible due to an invalid SAT score.

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The chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions cited eligibility as a “strict liability” matter, which forced Memphis to forfeit all games Rose played in even though the school wasn’t involved in the alleged academic fraud. The NCAA determined Memphis should have known Rose was ineligible, even though the NCAA had approved Rose's eligibility. The NCAA also said it never actually had to prove if Rose took the disputed SAT test because once the score was invalidated, Rose became ineligible. 

A September 2008 report detailing a handwriting analysis concluded Rose probably had someone else take the SAT for him.

Memphis was placed on three years’ probation and ordered to return the revenue earned from the 2008 NCAA tournament. Former Memphis coach John Calipari was not directly implicated.

What did Memphis do?  

In June 2009, the University of Memphis released its own internal probe into the Rose allegations that concluded "at this point, there is not sufficient evidence on which to conclude that [the player] knew or should have known he was ineligible at the time of his participation in the NCAA championship. 

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In October 2009, University of Memphis filed a 45-page appeal of the NCAA’s ruling that targeted the NCAA’s “strict liability” justification.

"The Committee's statement concerning the finding that this is a 'strict liability situation' is not supported by evidence, precedent or logic," Memphis argued in the brief.

“We know the rules,” former university president Shirley Raines said at the time. “We did our due diligence. We did everything we could to determine the student-athlete was eligible and that the rules were being followed. That is the basis for our appeal.”

What was the result?

In March 2010, the NCAA’s Infractions Appeal Committee ruled against Memphis’ final appeal.

"The Infractions Appeals Committee found no basis to conclude that the penalty was excessive such that the Committee on Infractions had abused its discretion in imposing the penalty," the NCAA said in its release.

According to the committee’s report, the decision was based on a letter sent by ETS to Rose that "not only made the student-athlete aware that his eligibility was in serious jeopardy, but that he would be declared ineligible if he did not respond to the letter.” 

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The University of Memphis said it was “extremely disappointed” and “strongly disagrees” with the NCAA’s decision.

Memphis had to vacate all 38 of its wins from the 2007-08 season, take down a banner in FedExForum commemorating its national championship game run and return approximately $615,000 in NCAA tournament revenue 

How this relates to James Wiseman

For one, Memphis fans have long been skeptical of the NCAA due to the lack of proof that went into its decision in the Rose case, a decision that didn’t actually show Rose did anything wrong other than not cooperate with the investigation. 

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The NCAA also ruled Rose eligible then decided later on he was no eligible. 

It’s why the allegation in Wiseman’s lawsuit that the NCAA initially ruled him eligible in May only to go back on that ruling in recent weeks seems to have struck such a chord in Memphis. The NCAA, according to Wiseman’s lawsuit, is selectively enforcing its rules and its actions are “arbitrary and capricious.”

In Wiseman’s case, however, the University of Memphis is acting proactively and choosing not to adhere to NCAA protocol like it did during the Rose case. Instead of sitting Wiseman out from games when the NCAA deemed him “likely ineligible,” Memphis has chosen to play him after Wiseman received a temporary restraining order from a Shelby County Chancery Court judge.

Rather than adhere to the NCAA’s recommendations, Memphis is fighting back. Even though the consequences of losing this battle include vacating a season just like it had to as a result of the Rose decision.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: How James Wiseman's NCAA lawsuit features shades of the Derrick Rose case at Memphis

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The James Wiseman-less Memphis Tigers blew out Alcorn State Saturday, but his absence on the court loomed over everythingSeated in one of the courtside seats lining the sideline at FedExForum Saturday afternoon watching his teammates warm up without him, young fans asked for photos and adults offered encouraging words. Then one man walked up wearing a Tiger blue “Free Wiseman” T-shirt.

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