Go Tigers? Really?
That's what the University of Memphis has to say about Saturday's date with the NCAA in Indianapolis?
"To all Tiger fans, please know that we will represent you well on June 6," wrote the university's lawyer, Sheri Lipman, in a letter to the Board of Visitors and the Board of Trustees. "And go Tigers!"
So strike up the band, Memphis fans. Anyone for a rousing pep rally?
Head down to Wilson Air and send them off in triumph.
The university is going to represent you well in a proceeding during which the NCAA enforcement staff will press the case that your golf and basketball programs combined for six major rules violations.
Remember the Alamodome! Or at least remember to use all your available objections/timeouts!
Memphis fans are counting on you to come back with, OK, an acquittal is too much to ask.
But -- according to the university's official response to the NCAA's notice of allegations -- the university is certainly resisting the notion that it should be punished in connection with the charge that Derrick Rose didn't take his own SAT. It's the one allegation Memphis vigorously disputes.
Yes, the women's golf coach bought her players all kinds of wacky stuff. Yes, Derrick Rose's brother, Reggie, wasn't charged for every hotel and flight.
But Memphis can't be held responsible if Rose cheated on his SAT.
"The University was in no position to know of a problem with the scores at the time of (Rose's) participation," the Memphis response states. "He had been certified on behalf of the NCAA as having met the initial-eligibility requirements and was a regularly admitted full-time student at Memphis."
Which makes a lot of sense, at some level. Memphis didn't get formal notice that Rose's SAT had been canceled until May 13, after the season ended. The school only played Rose after the NCAA Eligibility Center certified him as ready to go.
The NCAA didn't clear Angel Garcia, so Memphis didn't play Angel Garcia. The NCAA cleared Rose, so Memphis played Rose.
It would be unfair to punish Memphis under these circumstances!
Or -- at some macro level -- would it?
Memphis knew what it was getting when it hired John Calipari as head coach. For nine years, the guy had the run of the place.
Is it surprising that he recruited a player who might have faked an SAT? Really? If you're being completely honest with yourself?
On the same day the university released its response to the Rose allegations, CBSSports.com reported that Georgia did not accept Robert Dozier because of a "fishy" SAT.
Georgia officials apparently got a tip that Dozier's score might not be valid. When Dozier took the test again, he got a suspiciously lower score.
So is Memphis just the innocent victim of a duplicitous point guard who passed himself off as something he's not? Or did the Memphis program under Calipari invite investigations like the present one?
One thing's for sure: The university did a better job explaining the Rose allegations than it did explaining why it took so long to tell anyone about the scandal.
Lipman's letter was a sorry defense of the administration. But, to be fair, what exactly was she going to say?
"Once we received the notice, we had approximately 90 days to respond," she wrote. "The response must include a written answer to each allegation and to numerous related questions and a mass assembly of documents."
So Memphis officials were too busy to tell their alumni and supporters the truth? Too busy to tell the new basketball coach, too?
Even then, the response was finished and filed with the NCAA on April 24. What's been holding them up for the last month?
It's nonsense, of course, an attempt to defend the indefensible. University officials decided to sit on the charges because they decided to sit on the charges. Now they want you to know that they will "represent you well on June 6."
So have a party, break out the Calipari masks, light up the First Tennessee building in blue.
The University of Memphis is headed to Indianapolis.
Go Tigers Go.
To reach Geoff Calkins, call 529-2364 or e-mail email@example.com.