June 4 , 2010

UK Should Fight The NCAA
If Sanctioned Over Bledsoe
Part II

On Friday, May 28, 2010, the New York Times [NYT] reported that the NCAA was investigating circumstances in Alabama surrounding Eric Bledsoe's high school career that could render him retroactively ineligible. [ N.C.A.A. Is Looking Into Former Kentucky Player ] As the dimensions of the NYT's report began to emerge across the country, it is clear that the many enemies of the UK Basketball program and the many enemies of John Calipari are engaged in a feeding frenzy.   They obviously see this situation as the perfect storm to deliver a blow to both in a way that would knock UK down from the mountaintop of major college basketball.  

The vast majority of these people live with UK and Calipari in their cross hairs of life.   They are relentless in their attacks upon the UK Basketball program, and have been for decades.   They have been nearly equally relentless in their attacks upon John Calipari for the last 10 to 15 years.   The combination of Coach Calipari at UK has produced a synergy of hatred that has taken the vitriol off all known scale ranges.   Coach Calipari must function as UK's head coach in this climate.   He understands this as well as any coach could, and I am thankful that he also has embraced this reality as his personal challenge on behalf of the entire Big Blue Nation.

In the aftermath of the NYT report, the broad anti Calipari/UK reaction began to emerge.   In response to that reaction, I wrote that “if the NCAA sanctions UK over the Bledsoe situation, and if UK was not negligent in playing Bledsoe, it is my opinion that UK should be the school to take the NCAA to the mat over their application of strict liability in this manner.”   [   and ].   In response to my opinion, some UK fans countered that UK cannot take the NCAA to court, because the NCAA is a member organization, and a member cannot sue the organization without dropping out of the organization.   [ ].

I am not sure what the source of this view can be in the United States of America, and that view obviously exists on a relatively widespread basis.   However, the facts decry this view.   Consider these readily available examples of NCAA Member Institutions suing the NCAA.

•  If USC Skates, should Alabama Sue the NCAA? [ ]

•  N. Dakota Officials Sue NCAA Over Name   [,4670,NCAANorthDakotaNickname,00.html ]


•  Houston Baptist sues NCAA over membership delay [ ]

•  The Rules of The Game [ ]

•  Suit Over NCAA Rule Is Linked to Bowden [ ]

Member institutions can sue the NCAA, have sued the NCAA, and assertions that Member institutions are prohibited from suing the NCAA by virtue of their membership are simply not correct.   The NCAA is not somehow above the law in regards to its treatment of its members.   Do many of these suits succeed in their efforts to take on the great and powerful Wizard of Oz?   NO!!! Of course not.   The NCAA has vast resources that it is willing to use to defend its power, and the NCAA has access to the best lawyers in the business.   In the face of these resources, most Member Institutions eventually decide that they cannot spend their precious, limited resources on this type of legal exercise, so they simply roll over and take it, regardless of the merits of their case.

North Dakota did not do that with respect to its logo and mascot.   North Dakota provides an excellent example.   How is it that the NCAA could carve out an exception for "offensive" mascots for Florida State [who threatened to sue, but did not have to] but not for William and Mary [who considered suing, but chose not to sue for lack of funds] and North Dakota, who sued despite its substantial cost, because the principle involved was so significant to them?

This is my point.   Memphis, when faced with the loss of 38 wins in its record books, decided to roll over and accept the unfairness of a strict liability application to a set of circumstances that Memphis, nor its coach, either knew about or could have prevented.   They relied upon the NCAA's own Clearinghouse certification of Rose's eligibility.   What other D1 Member Institution would NOT have played Rose under the same circumstances?   None come to my mind!   Memphis' decision not to sue the NCAA over this issue has nothing to do with their right to sue, the merits of their case, or the importance of the issue involved.   However, frankly what significant impact does 38 fewer wins really have on the Memphis legacy/tradition?   None - NADA - Zip.   Therefore, Memphis decided to save its resources and move on with life.

I believe Memphis should have fought this absurd NCAA ruling to an adjudicated judgment, not because it would be so important for Memphis at the end of the day, but for the principle of the thing.   However, I also believe that every NCAA member institution in the country should have been lining up to not only support Memphis with their words, but with their money.   Nevertheless, nobody to my knowledge offered financial support for a suit to take on the big bully of the neighborhood, much less just speaking out in support of Memphis' situation.   Therefore, the Strict Liability Rule for retroactive ineligibility of players became precedent for the NCAA to use at its own discretion against any other D1 school.

Guess what?   Just one year removed from this outrageous decision, the NCAA may be turning its sights on John Calipari and UK.   Now the stakes are much higher.  

•  The combination of Calipari and UK Basketball has the potential, no after just one year and two recruiting cycles, clearly will be a force that can dominate the game of college basketball for the next several years.  

•  UK and Calipari live within the cross hairs of nearly everybody involved with basketball: Opposing Schools, opposing coaches, opposing fans, and a press that spreads the lies of continual cheating, racism, and all other forms of ills associated with both Calipari and UK Basketball.  

•  Wiping 35 wins off the UK record books for last season would cost this program too much to simply allow the bully to impose its unfair will in this circumstance without calling their bluff by challenging the fairness of this rule, and the NCAA's authority to impose it will, regardless of fairness, upon its members.  

It is a classic case of the Courts being there to protect a minority from the tyranny of the majority.   This is why the US courts are there.   This is what makes the US legal system special in the world.   This is why the US Courts will not deny access to an aggrieved person [or organization] to resolve such tough disputes.   This is why Lady Justice wears that blindfold.

I wrote extensively a year ago that the Memphis decision was absurd and dangerous.   I also wrote that the driving force behind this decision and ruling was to target Calipari and UK.   That is exactly what is now happening.

Now back to my original editorial conclusion:

•  IF .... IF .... the NCAA sanctions UK over the Bledsoe matter, and

•  IF .... IF .... UK was not negligent in playing Bledsoe last year, then

•  UK should take the NCAA to the legal mat over this issue.



Other Editorials:

Can UK Football Be Fixed By Just Replacing Its Coach?
Sadly It Is Not Likely


UK Should Fight The NCAA If Sanctioned Over Bledsoe in Two Parts



Why Concerned Fans For UK Basketball Believe Tubby Smith Should Resign, October 8, 2006 in Four Parts

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