A bad day for the Kentucky Wildcats

Yesterday was not a good day for Kentucky. Former coach Billy Gillispie sued the school for $6M, recruit John Wall pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and entered a program for first time offenders, they've lost three players from last year's team, and new coach John Calipari has been "asked" to participate in a hearing related to NCAA allegations that the University of Memphis men's basketball program committed major violations, including "knowing fraudulence or misconduct," during the 2007-08 season under Calipari. Oh, and Calipari's making mistakes on Twitter.

That's a lot of bad news all at once, but it may seem much worse than it actually is. First, Gillispie didn't have a formal contract with Kentucky; they were working under a "memorandum of understanding." Depending on what that document says, Gillisipie may or may not have a case. News flash: some contracts need not be written to be enforceable agreements and things like letters of intent or memoranda of understanding can be reviewed to see what the parties might have believed their oral agreement to be. Generally, though, those documents expressly say that they are not enforceable and that there is no agreement (written or verbal) until the thing is formalized in a more extensive document signed by both parties. I suspect that Kentucky's had language similar to that. On the other hand, they did actually start acting as if there was some form of agreement -- Gillisipie coached and Kentucky paid him to do so -- so you simply can't know the merits of the case without seeing the language of the memo of understanding. Anyone seen a copy of that?

Second, Wall's misdemeanor seems extraordinarily tame to me. He was cited when walking out of a vacant house, and he'll likely have his record cleared by performing community service. That's practically nothing.

Third, Kentucky needed to lose players to get down to the scholarship limit of 11. They actually still have to "lose" two more. That's a type of Saban-shady (emulated by Ole Miss to the extreme this past recruiting season), and we've been guilty of oversigning before, so the initial impression one might get from seeing that headline in the midst of all of the others -- that players are running screaming from the internal horrors of the program -- isn't quite fair.

And finally, Calipari has received a letter from the NCAA saying that he himself not at risk of being charged with any violations. Frankly, I'm not sure how they can say that at this time (before talking to him), and if the allegations include "knowing fraudulence or misconduct," who did the knowing? Perhaps they're just talking about the player with the suspect ACT score, but would it be a "major" violation if that were the case? My limited understanding of NCAA rules/regs/etc. is that you only get into the "major" stuff if there was some form of institutional culpability, and if that's the case, then is it really likely that the institution knew and Calipari didn't? I don't think so.

But we'll see.

The good news for Kentucky fans is that John Adams has awarded Wildcat football coach Rich Brooks the . . . Rich Brooks Award. So that ought to make it all better.

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