Kentucky's hallowed basketball program seems to be on the verge of self-immolation. Again.
People with long memories will recall that the Wildcats were sanctioned in 1988 because of 17 NCAA violations, the most serious of which was that basketball recruit Eric Manuel received help on a college entrance exam and another recruit got $1,000 under the table from an assistant coach.
Fast forward to the here and now and two developments:
* Prized recruit Enes Kanter (right), a 6-foot-11, 272-pound freshman from Turkey, played pro ball for a number of European teams. An NCAA rule grants eligibility to pros who have not received "more than actual and necessary expenses," but The New York Times reports that he received over $100,000 in cash and benefits from one of the teams.
* Star forward Eric Bledsoe (below, left), who led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in last year's NCAA tournament , took Algebra 3 in night school as a high school senior and needed and apparently got an A to make him eligible to play at Kentucky. Oops! Transcripts show that he actually received a low C. Oh, and never took Algebra 2.
Kentucky Coach John Calipari, who like several of his predecessors seems to be "willing to flirt too closely with the line of impropriety," as an ESPN commentator politely put it, is acting shocked and alarumed over both the Kanter and Bledsoe revelations, but in neither case did the university's athletic compliance department do their jobs. Nor Calipari his.
Kentucky has plenty of company when it comes to playing fast and loose with the rules.
A number of other major college sports programs have been investigated and sanctioned or are currently under investigation by the NCAA, including the University of Southern California football program. This big-time embarrassment prompted Reggie Bush (above, right) to return his 2005 Heisman Trophy last week.