NCAA investigating former Kentucky player Eric Bledsoe

Per the NY Times

Two years ago, Eric Bledsoe was a star point guard without the grades to meet the N.C.A.A.’s minimum standards and needing to find a new high school. He solved both problems by moving to A. H. Parker High School and now, after one season at the University of Kentucky, he is awaiting a lucrative payday in next month’s N.B.A. draft.

The changes in Bledsoe’s academic and athletic prospects have attracted the attention of the N.C.A.A., which has sent investigators to at least three places in Alabama to ask about him. The N.C.A.A. does not talk about its investigations, and the scope of this one is unknown.

The report goes on to discuss interviews with people in Bledsoe’s life that may reveal potential violations:

Brenda Axle, the landlord for the house where Bledsoe and his mother moved for his senior year of high school, said that Bledsoe’s high school coach [Maurice Ford] paid her at least three months’ rent, or $1,200.

A copy of Bledsoe’s high school transcript from his first three years reveals that it would have taken an improbable academic makeover — a jump from about a 1.9 grade point average in core courses to just under a 2.5 during his senior year — for Bledsoe to achieve minimum N.C.A.A. standards to qualify for a scholarship.

A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother.

Uh-oh. If the coach’s assertions are true, and Ford did indeed demand money to “let Bledsoe sign with the university,” and Bledsoe eventually signed with John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats…well, then, you can connect the dots.

Trouble just follows Calipari around. I’m starting to think that it’s partly due to the kind of player he recruits. Calipari clearly doesn’t care about academics, so sometimes shady things go on to get his recruits eligible to play. In Bledsoe’s case, his GPA shot up after enrolling at A.H. Parker High School. Of course, this comes on the heels of the NCAA vacating Memphis’s trip to the 2008 Final Four because someone else actually took Derrick Rose’s SAT test during his senior year of high school.

This is party the NBA’s fault. The league’s age-limit rule forces kids that have no business going to college to enroll for a season, and that can lead to all sorts of shenanigans in trying to get a player eligible. We’re talking about a handful of players every year, but Rose and Bledsoe fall into that category. Both players would have been NBA draftees had they turned pro straight out of high school.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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