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NCAA: ’08 Final Four never happened

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Tim Cowlishaw
August 27, 2009

Question for college hoops fans: Have four No. 1 seeds ever reached the Final Four of the menís basketball tournament?


Answer: No. Not any more.


One little actionóone quite ridiculous and ineffective action as a matter of factócan produce so many consequences with its ripple effects. If we didnít know this already, we learned it when the NCAA announced this week that the Memphis Tigers would have to vacate all 38 of their wins during their 2007-08 season, including their trip to the Final Four in San Antonio.


Here are just a few of the things this NCAA ruling means:


If you are a diehard Memphis fan, start taking down those pictures of yourself outside the Alamodome getting ready to watch the Final Four. You werenít really there.


If you are Rick Barnes, ask for a contract extension. The No. 2-seeded Longhorns didnít really lose in the elite eight to Memphis, so Texas gets a trip to the Final Four.


Do likewise if you are UCLA coach Ben Howland. All those haunting memories of Memphis kicking your Bruinsí butts all over the floor at the Final Fouróthose can go away now. You get to play Kansas in the national championship, but I canít tell you when that will be.


Heck, even if you are Matt Doherty, chalk up a couple of Conference USA wins over Memphis for that season. Think that gets your Mustangs all the way to 6-10.


Iím just wondering what anyone at the NCAA thinks ďvacatingĒ wins really accomplishes. Those teams that lost to Memphis donít get any rewards, and that gets us to the really important stuff here.


When do those of us who had Memphis losing somewhere earlier in the tournament get refunds on our NCAA Tournament pools?


I canít think of a sillier thing than whatever it is the NCAA hopes to accomplish here. Instead of ďThose who donít learn from history are doomed to repeat it,Ē the NCAA has changed it to ďThose who donít like their own history are empowered to rewrite it.Ē


In case you missed it, the NCAA found that Derrick Rose (it didnít name him, but thatís who itís talking about) had someone else take his SAT to gain entrance to Memphis.


Other possible violations have been cited as well, but that would be the biggest.


Memphis is appealing, and the school has one very good argument. The NCAA clearinghouse ruled that Rose was eligible to play. Iím not sure how much an institution gets off the hook for such a ruling, but Memphis certainly will make a case for it.


Regardless, hereís the problem. Rose didnít suffer any penalties. He used the NCAA Tournament as a showcase for his skills and became the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Rose already has pocketed millions and there are more to follow.


Coach John Calipari suffered no penalty, either, even though his trip to the Final Four with UMass in 1996 also has been vacated by the NCAA. It seems that no matter where he takes a team, the NCAA eventually determines that he never really got there.


Calipari, like Rose, has pocketed millions to coach Kentucky now.


So what has been achieved?


According to record books, Memphis won no basketball games that season. Those of us with a pair of eyes or any memory banks remaining know differently. Memphis had a great team and was about to win the national title before its free throw troubles allowed Kansas to pull out an overtime victory.


And what does the NCAA have to say about the Jayhawks?


The team that remains the champion of that season, now so stained by Memphisí presence, had a starter named Darrell Arthur. Maybe youíve heard of him. He won a Texas state title at South Oak Cliff High School in 2006, only the championship was later vacated by the University Interscholastic League because he and others had failing grades changed to passing grades as reported by WFAA-TV.


So there you have that fine line as drawn by the NCAA.


Passing high school but cheating on your college entrance exam? Not OK.


Failing high school but cheating in order to pass, stay eligible and go on to college? No problem.


Itís a good thing the NCAA got all that cleared up for us this week.


Now about all those basketball pools I lost Ö



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