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NCAA Rules: Why Are John Calipari And Pete Carroll Smiling?

So what does a former Southern California Trojan football coach and the current Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach have in common, and what could possibly amuse them so?  What they have in common is that both of them were smitten by the NCAA Committee on Infractions chaired by Paul Dee.  What they are smiling about is that Paul Dee was the Miami Athletics Director during most of the period when Nevin Shapiro alleges there was unprecedented hanky-panky going on in Coral Gables.

Paul Dee was the chair of the COI that declared the Memphis 2007-08 season void and sent Calipari to his new job at Kentucky under a cloud, and then a year or so later crushed USC and Pete Carroll with a stentorian remark that will ring forever in his own ears, "...high-profile athletes demand high-profile compliance."  

 Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News pegs Dee's involvement in the Memphis matter thus:

Essentially, Memphis had the greatest season in its history wiped from the record because the Tigers used a player, Derrick Rose, the NCAA clearinghouse had ruled academically eligible. This seemed odd on the face of it. Memphis president Shirley Raines argued the university had followed guidance provided by the NCAA, but Dee and his committee determined that approval had been in error because the Educational Testing Service invalidated Rose’s SAT score—following the conclusion of his freshman season. "Strict liability," he said.

Seems almost quaint now, doesn’t it? If placed into the middle of the mess allegedly transpiring with the Miami Hurricanes during Dee’s final years as athletics director at The U, Rose’s situation wouldn’t merit mention. Not salacious enough. Not sleazy enough.

Indeed, it does seem quaint when compared to the emerging debacle at Miami, even assuming only 50% of what convicted fraudster Nevin Shapiro has revealed so far is actually true.  Compared to the accusations Shapiro is chucking about like backpack nukes in the general direction of Coral Gables, but also hitting cities as far away as Louisville, Derrick Rose's alleged (and unproven) academic fraud seems as mild as jaywalking.

The Memphis decision was roundly criticized for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which being that the NCAA was for Derrick Rose before it was against him, and the novel new "strict liability" interpretation from the committee over for which Dee was chair.  John Calipari was understandably unhappy with the Memphis ruling, probably even more so than we'll ever know.

Indeed, the phrase "Strict liability" in the NCAA context was pretty much coined by Dee's committee, and already, people are lining up to mock Dee for what looks like hypocrisy in both the Memphis and USC matter.  Most of the sports world is convinced that Miami had to have some idea about Shapiro's apparently naked illicit involvement with the program, and the fingers will all be pointed straight at Dee as the man in charge of the athletics department at Miami during most of the shenanigans.

It really doesn't matter if Dee was completely ignorant or not -- frankly, it would probably be better if he knew and looked the other way.  That way, at least, he wouldn't come off looking like a complete buffoon, but merely an ethics-free hypocrite. 

So, lets see:  Behind door #1 is "clueless moron."   "See-no-evil scofflaw" is behind door #2.  It looks like Dee is going for door #1 and the "clueless moron" defense:

Frantz said he never saw Shapiro at booster meetings. Former Miami athletic director Paul Dee, who went on to become the chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, said he didn’t have any suspicions of Shapiro. [my emphasis]

No matter what really happened, no matter how many truly good reasons there may or may not have been for the failure of Dee's oversight, the result will be the same.  At least he can share the blame a little bit with the NCAA  -- "Yeah, my sports management IQ may only be marginally higher than an amoeba's, but look who hired me to chair their committee!" 

The Memphis fans are already having a field day, and you know Southern Cal is ripping and roaring.  Even the Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott, is throwing haymakers Dee's way:

Safe to say [Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott] agrees with many that Dee blasting the Trojans while his own department ran amok makes him a hypocrite.

Somewhere between here and the Dominican Republic, John Calipari is smiling at the rich irony, and Pete Carroll is probably falling out of his $65,000 antique armchair laughing uproariously.