I ran across this article at Duke Basketball Report, the now-officially SB Nation blog for the Duke Blue Devils. Like most of their stuff, I found it interesting for its unintended hilarity and feckless condescension. So let's have some fun with it, shall we?
The piece is by J.D. King, and I'm sure he's a good fellow and all, although I don't really know him as I've never had the pleasure of his acquaintance. Nevertheless, he enjoys taking shots at Kentucky (which I don't really mind — I very much enjoy taking shots at Duke) and his latest effort starts off by dragging in their arch-rival, the North Carolina Tar Heels:
As UNC taught us, it's not that hard to fake results. Which is why we're surprised that Mike DeCourcy takes Kentucky's recent APR scores at face value.
Gotta give J.D. credit — he doesn't mince words. Why would a reporter even think about believing that Kentucky could have a high APR! The scandal!
But seriously, J.D., why would Mike DeCourcy not take Kentucky at their word? After all, there has been no academic scandal here since back in the late 1970's — probably before you were itch in your father's pants. So what would arouse DeCourcy's suspicion?
Look, we're sure some of Kentucky's players over the past few years were studious. But a perfect score? At Kentucky?
That's hard to believe, particularly when several players leave early every year. It's also hard to believe when you know that at least one former Kentucky athlete was barely eligible and was involved in a bit of a transcript scandal at the end of his senior year in high school.
Yes, it is hard to believe, isn't it? Well, not really. Let's consider how the APR is calculated, via the NCAA website. In other words, let's do something Dookies are supposed to be good at — the math:
Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by one thousand to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate score.
So how could Kentucky, who consistently lose players to the NBA Draft, have a perfect APR, even assuming they remain eligible and earn their eligibility point? NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program Data Collection Guide tells us that the retention point is eligible for "adjustment" (elimination) under several conditions, one of which is related to professional athletics:
4.Professional Athletics Opportunities.
a. Initial professional sports opportunity.
The student-athlete completed an academic term and was not retained due to participation in professional sports as a vocation. (Note: A student-athlete is required to earn the eligibility point). Such participation may be demonstrated by the following:
(1) Signed contract with a professional sports team or organization;
(2) Established pattern of acceptance of prize money for competition;
(3) Documented declaration of intent to compete as a professional in an individual sport (e.g., tennis, golf); or
(4) Other evidence determined by the staff/committee to confirm the individual's professional sports vocation.
So for the year in question (2012-13), Kentucky had two players leave early, Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin. Both were eligible, and Kentucky petitioned the NCAA to remove their required retention point, which, after examining the evidence (i.e. signed professional contracts), they did. All other players either graduated, or transferred (Kyle Wiltjer).
Wait, did I just say, "transfer?" Don't transfers cost you a retention point? Not always:
a. The student-athlete was not retained because he or she transferred to another institution and meets the following criteria:
(1) The student-athlete earned the eligibility point in the last term of enrollment prior to transfer.
(2) The student-athlete was enrolled at the institution for at least one academic year prior to transfer.
(3) The student-athlete immediately transferred to another four-year institution. This requires full-time enrollment at the new institution at the next available regular academic term. The student-athlete presents a cumulative grade-point average at the original institution of at least 2.6.
Well, isn't that special! Kyle Wiltjer easily met every one of these criteria with his 4.0 average and the fact that he had just completed his sophomore year, as well as transferring straight to Gonzaga.
As an aside, it's ironic that it is the Kentucky blogger, a.k.a. your humble correspondent, who has taken the time and effort to find the answers for his dear SB Nation brother. Especially so when we consider that it is J.D. who has looked down his ever-so-long nose at Kentucky and branded them an academic scofflaw by employing the example of a fellow Research Triangle member who's fallen from grace, and absent any actual evidence to support his concern.
So we are left to wonder what J.D. is complaining about. We're not sure what player he's referring to as far as the "transcript scandal" is concerned, but we assume it is Eric Bledsoe, who left back in 2010, and if you'll recall, Kentucky's GPA that year was a little suspect. Calipari took a ton of heat over the fact that it was marginal, particularly in the fall semester. Since then, it has pretty much been all good news.
We're not saying they didn't do the work, but after seeing what happened at UNC, we should all know that manipulating grades is not that big of a deal. Tutors writing papers, fake classes, compliant professors - there are a million ways to do it.
You knew there would be a logical fallacy at the root of this, didn't you? And knowing our propensity for responding in a frivolously pompous manner to ridiculous commentary, as well as almost always noting at least one example of Adventures in Logical Fallacies found in the offending argument, please pardon us while we indulge ourselves.
This is a variant of the appeal to common practice fallacy, generally of the form:
- X is a common action;
- Therefore X is at work in/proves this case.
J.D. takes the position that since UNC allegedly engaged in academic fraud, it must be easy to do, and therefore commonly done. Since Kentucky is his rival, and his rivals are bad, Kentucky must be doing it just like UNC did. Ipso facto?
No, J.D. — non sequitur.