OSCAR L. COMBS
CATS' PAUSE EDITOR/PUBLISHER
Worst is over, now it's time to rebuild UK basketball
?As this issue of TCP goes to press, the University of Kentucky has just concluded its appearance before the NCAA Infractions Committee and NCAA officials say a final verdict of all charges should come anywhere from two to four weeks from now.
In other words, another two to four weeks of playing the waiting game.
But for UK, the worst is now over. Sure, the final results aren't in, but the trial is history and once penalties, if any (and there will be some), are handed down, then UK can start rebuilding.
From talking to various people who either were part of the hearing or around the hearing, it is almost impossible to determine what the infractions committee will ultimately decide.
There, however, can be some casual observations made. NCAA officials, as well as the infractions committee, obviously were pleased with the thoroughness of UK's in-house investigation and the way UK responded to the NCAA's instructions.
Some UK fans might feel betrayed by UK officials for being so forthright and honest, but they shouldn't. In the end, such honesty could play a major role in how the infractions committee ultimately sentences Kentucky.
UK president David Roselle, though, has repeatedly denied conducting an honest investigation for the sole purpose of obtaining a lighter penalty. Roselle says the reason for conducting a detailed and honest investigation is strictly because that's the way it (an in-house investigation) should be done.
For years, the NCAA has stressed self-policing and self-compliance for members of the NCAA. Quite honestly, many (perhaps most) have winked at the philosophy. Not Roselle. And he's come under increasing heat from some UK fans because they feel many other schools are doing just that, winking.
That segment of UK fans believe Roselle doesn't understand college athletics and how they really operate, that he is totally disinterested in athletics.
The president may be guilty of not knowing how widespread cheating and winking at the rules are in college athletics, but he is not anti-athletics.
With the arrival of Roselle, we are going to see if the NCAA way of conducting business really works. Roselle has opened Kentucky's heart to the world. No doubt, some warts have been discovered, just like they would at many other schools.
But other schools are not the issue right now, just Kentucky. Whether you like it or not, Kentucky's athletics program (not just basketball) is being cleaned up, not just to the level of other schools, but far beyond it.
Before we go any farther, let me clarify what I mean by the overall Kentucky program. Basketball, and basketball only, is under the gun of the NCAA right now,
but in the process of evaluating the basketball program, every phase of the UK athletics program has undergone the microscope these past several months. As a result of the year-long study, look for other management philosophies to change, look for more newer and tougher controls on the day-to-day operation of the athletics department.
While Kentucky is cleaning up its act, it is not the first school to go before the NCAA jury. It certainly won't be the last, but at least some UK detractors will have to pick on another school as being untouchable.
To those Kentucky bashers, I often chuckle. They're so jealous of UK. On one hand they claim UK operates above the law of the NCAA and is never targeted by the NCAA, that UK is on that proverbial list of "untouchables." Yet, those same skeptics keep talking about how many times UK has been investigated and placed on probation by the NCAA over the years. Something doesn't fit.
Freight package from assistant Dwane Casey to Claude Mills, father of then UK signee Chris Mills, allegedly carried with it SI,000 cash. The second was the alleged academic fraud involving Eric Manuel's ACT test.
Conviction on either count gives UK a real black eye. If UK is judged guilty (and from previous reports, it appears UK pretty much agreed with the NCAA allegations in these two matters), it gives the strong apperance that they didn't accidentally happen.
You don't accidentally put SI,000 in an envelope and then deny you have no knowledge of it. If there was cheating on the ACT test (which was taken locally at Lafayette High School), it's very difficult to believe the cheating was accomplished alone by Manuel. UK, in its official response to the NCAA, reportedly didn't challenge the allegation of a $1,000 being in the package when it left the UK basketball offices, but UK said it could not determine who put the money in the
Next issue of TCP to be available in mid-May
As a reminder, now that we are using our sum.ner printing schedule, The Cats' Pause will be published once each munth until Sept. 9. Our next issue will be dated May 27, 1989, and will be available in mid-May. Look for the recap of the spring football game and a closer look at UK's meeting with the NCAA Infractions Committee in that issue.
Both these situations give great credibility to theories that such wrongdoings had other designers behind the stage. And that's what has become so alarming to Roselle.
That's probably why Kentucky is searching for a new coaching staff right now.
What we're going to see over the next few years at Kentucky is a model program, a model program the NCAA can hold up for the rest of the sports world to examine.
Kentucky will be a clear alternative to schools such as the one in football at Oklahoma, which is now on two years of postseason bowl bans after OU officials decided it was better to fight the NCAA, than switch their tactics and personnel.
Kentucky, on the other hand, is doing it the way other college presidents have been advocating. Of course, some presidents are like the old-time preacher: "Do as I say, not as I do."
The big question is: Can a big-time college sports program operate within the rules and still field a championship-caliber team? I'm not sure one can answer that question without some reservations.
I will say this: If there is a college program which can operate within the rules and still be of championship caliber, it should be Kentucky.
We're about to find out.
Quite the contrary. Kenucky, if anything, pays the price of being the New York Yankees of college basketball. Either you love 'em or you hate em. But then, that goes with the territory when everyone is envious of your success.
It never ceases to amaze me why so many people are so jealous of Kentucky. Well, maybe it shouldn't. Over the years, Kentucky has been known as one of the nation's top three or four basketball programs. And believe you me, no school gets investigated more thoroughly than UK, except perhaps UNLV.
So when all the washing is finally hung out to dry in the next few weeks, just consider how many people have been involved in the UK invesigation, the number of reporters who have chronicled it every step of the way and how much time has been put into it.
It's not uncommon for some schools which have been put on probation to have dozens and dozens of violations. By the time UK's list is completed, you'll find less than a dozen.
Having said that, we must face up to what has happened to the UK program in the past few years, admit the guilt, pay the penalty and move forward.
While the number of violations is relatively small, the nature of the charges are about as serious as they can become. They cannot be taken lightly, winked at or dismissed as an accidential mistake.
Of the original 18 charges, there are only two which are so terrible that you want to wish your school had never heard of them.
The infamous Emery Worldwide Air
We'll soon know what the NCAA thinks of the way president David Roselle has handled UK's response to the allegations.
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