Eric Bledsoe Made Cookouts in Kentucky More Interesting This Weekend

While many of us enjoyed three-day weekends over the last few days, college hoops outlets have been buzzing thanks to a report from the New York Times late on Friday that the NCAA is looking into one-and-done Kentucky point guard Eric Bledsoe. ↵
↵⇥BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Two years ago, Eric Bledsoe was a star point guard without the grades to meet the N.C.A.A.’s minimum standards and needing to find a new high school. He solved both problems by moving to A. H. Parker High School and now, after one season at the University of Kentucky, he is awaiting a lucrative payday in next month’s N.B.A. draft. ↵⇥

↵⇥The changes in Bledsoe’s academic and athletic prospects have attracted the attention of the N.C.A.A., which has sent investigators to at least three places in Alabama to ask about him. The N.C.A.A. does not talk about its investigations, and the scope of this one is unknown. ↵⇥

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↵There are a few key issues in the story, but when boiled down this passage is probably what has the NCAA's attention: ↵

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↵⇥A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that [Former Parker coach Maurice] Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother. Ford denied this, saying, “I don’t prostitute my kids.” ↵⇥

↵⇥He said he had done nothing wrong, adding: “I’m a poor black man. And when one black man tries to help another black man, there’s always something wrong.” ↵⇥

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↵The Alabama High School Athletic Association will look into the rent allegations. ↵

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↵Kentucky has been relatively quiet -- probably in large part because of the holiday weekend and John Calipari reportedly tending to his mother, who is ill. The school issued a statement on Saturday saying Bledsoe was cleared by the NCAA, but that hasn't exactly been an iron-clad defense against the NCAA's ability to revoke victories in the past. After all, Derrick Rose was cleared at Memphis, too. ↵

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↵The Birmingham News was hot on the trail of the initial story from the New York Times, posting its own story on Friday night. That story gave us a "when" for the NCAA's visit to Birmingham, saying that the NCAA officials spoke with Steve Ward -- Bledsoe's coach at Hayes High School -- in late February. The NCAA reportedly asked Ward for Bledsoe's high school transcript, but Ward could not provide it. (Hayes High closed after Bledsoe's junior season, which is when he went on to play at Parker under Maurice Ford.) ↵

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↵That transcript leads to another offshoot of the weekend: Kentucky Sports Radio, citing an anonymous source, reports Bledsoe is considering suing whoever leaked his high school transcripts. (Matt Jones also poses an interesting question: How is Bledsoe's case different from that of Michael Oher? My answer: If this coach, Maurice Ford, was asking for money, that'd be a pretty basic place to start, but right now that information is only alleged by one coach speaking off the record to the Times.) ↵

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↵ESPN, for its part, reports the NCAA could penalize UK if Bledsoe is found to have been ineligible. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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