- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

The urge to lament Derrick Rose’s fraudulent academic career is an understandable but wasted exercise.

No genuine reform is coming to big-time college athletics, no matter how many scandals surface. Too many prosper off the student-athlete sham.

If a dead body and attempted cover-up in Waco, Texas, could not jar the NCAA suits into action, academic malfeasance is not about to raise a concern.

It soon will pass, the Rose fallout. The scandal of the moment inevitably recedes from the public domain, the outrage subsides and then it is back to business as usual.

Go, Memphis.

John Calipari has skipped town, of course. His recruitment of Rose helped result in his eight-year, $32.1 million deal at Kentucky, where he is expected to restore the luster of the basketball program. No one is expected to be overly concerned with how he goes about it.

The blue-bleeding fanatics of Kentucky do not judge their athletic saviors on how they secure personnel but on their number of wins. Calipari will win at Kentucky, if not lead the Wildcats to the Final Four, even if the appearance eventually is vacated.

That is part of Calipari’s legacy. He took UMass to the Final Four in 1996, only to have it vacated. The same prospect awaits Memphis’ appearance in the Final Four in 2008.

None of the stench sticks to Calipari, who inevitably professes to be ignorant of the wrongdoing around him. And maybe he is. But if you recruit enough suspects, as Calipari does, no one should be surprised if a few of them eventually bring shame and scandal to a school.

It is easy enough to ridicule David Stern’s decision that ended the prep-to-NBA migration. Rose never would have needed a grading curve and a stand-in to take his SAT if the option of the NBA had been available to him after high school, as it once was.

So Rose was required to become the latest form of life in college basketball, the one-and-done mercenary.

This is not Stern’s nod to education, although he and others argue that a year on a college campus provides the precocious ones a certain emotional sustenance that cannot be found in the tumultuous NBA lifestyle.

An incidental benefit is that it delays the NBA’s baby-sitting fees.

The reform-minded disliked the prep-to-NBA process, even if it was honest and straightforward. There never has been a whiff of academic scandal involving Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, to cite three of the NBA’s leading figures who never attended college.

There is no telling which rules overzealous recruiters would have violated to secure their services. There is no telling how many challenging tests devised by a Jim Harrick Jr. disciple they would have been required to take in college.

It was Harrick who once famously tested his student-athletes at Georgia with the following question: How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in a basketball game?

University presidents have no choice but to play along with the game. Successful football and basketball programs are the lifeblood of all too many academically ordinary institutions. A high-profile athletic program turns on the money spigot, increases student applications and results in an avalanche of publicity that no university could afford.

George Mason is still prospering from its Final Four appearance in 2006, its national profile upgraded in a significant way.

That is the dollar-chasing deal, unseemly as it often is.

Everybody wins until the next time, and there is always a next time.

There is always something being uncovered from the college athletic landfill.

This time it is a D in a high school course magically becoming a C. This time it is someone other than the athlete taking his SAT.

And it all will be forgotten soon enough.

So dust off your pompoms. See if you are low on face paint.

Another BCS-marred college football season is nearing.

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