The NCAA And UK In A Row Over Calipari's 500th Win

As linked earlier by member A2D2, yet another tempest in a teapot has broken out this summer, this time between the NCAA Committee on Infractions and the UK Athletics Department, including Senior Associate Athletics Director and head of NCAA compliance, Sandy Bell.

In spite of receiving what appeared to be clearance from the NCAA to recognize John Calipari's 500th win earlier this year, the Committee on Infractions is essentially attempting to revoke that go ahead, and has threatened UK if they do not change their earlier statement:

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari's 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK's statement "must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release."


More than once in his five-page letter, Thomas wrote of how UK's handling of Calipari's victory total was "troubling," "extremely troubling" and "very troubling" to the Committee on Infractions.

If UK did not agree, Thomas said school officials would be asked to make an in-person appearance before the committee.

First of all, I think UK should have noted the official record in the release.  It's important that the University recognize the NCAA's authority to determine the official win count in any statement regarding wins.  The NCAA is given this authority directly by the member schools, of which UK is one, and not to mention the official record it in their release undermines the authority of the NCAA.

With that said, there is more to this particular story.  The NCAA clearly authorized the release UK made, and now appears to be essentially trying to ignore their obvious earlier error and attempting to use a threat to bully Kentucky in to retracting its statement unilaterally.  If so, the NCAA is patently wrong and UK is right to reject their request, if that is in fact what they have done.

What should happen in this case is that the NCAA and UK should issue a joint clarification.  The NCAA should acknowledge in the clarification that it authorized, or appeared to authorize Kentucky's earlier statement, and that it was wrong to do so.  UK should then acknowledge the NCAA's authority to determine the official record and correct its earlier release concerning Calipari's wins, as well as all current and future publications discussing this matter.

The NCAA cannot authorize a statement, then threaten a member university if it proceeds with the statement that they have clearly given the okay for.  UK should request the joint correction directly from the NCAA president Mark Emmert, and carbon copy the Committee on Infractions, since the COI are not the ones actually involved in determining the official record except to the extent that they determine the number of games to be vacated in the case of an infraction, and were not the ones who authorized the UK statement.

For the COI to threaten UK in this manner is unacceptable and apparently outside their area of responsibility, and UK should insist on a concomitant acknowledgement by the NCAA of their earlier authorization.  If the committee rejects that request, UK should decline the opportunity to appear before the COI. I don't know if the COI has authority to punish UK over this or not, but it is a matter of principle that Kentucky should not allow the NCAA to get away with an error that they themselves created by an apparently mistaken authorization.

Somebody has to stand up to the NCAA when they are wrong.  I would be happy if it were Kentucky who did that.  The NCAA has a duty to its member universities, including Kentucky, to acknowledge their errors in public before requiring a correction of any communications resulting from an NCAA error. The right hand of the NCAA cannot ignore what its left hand has done.

COI Chairman Dennis Thomas should be told this in no uncertain terms -- if not by Mark Emmert, then by Sandy Bell and the University of Kentucky.

[Update]  Eric Crawford apparently missed the part where the NCAA authorized the release.

[Update]:  I liked this comment by Matt Norlander:

Suddenly the NCAA is looking like the angry neighborhood kid who's not getting its way and wants to take its ball and go home. Two steps forward, one step back with the NCAA. Same as it ever was. I wish we could vacate this kind of birdbrained behavior. 

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