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Memphis Vacated Wins Basketball

The NCAA has forced Memphis to give up its 38 victories from the Final Four season of 2007-08 under former coach John Calipari because of an ineligible player.

The announcement came Thursday, 16 months after the Tigers lost to Kansas in the title game. Calipari has moved on to become the coach at Kentucky.

The NCAA also said the school must return the money it received from the NCAA tournament appearance. School officials were expected to discuss the report later Thursday.

The NCAA said a player had someone else take his SAT exam, allowing him to attend Memphis. The player was not identified in the report, although material previously released by the governing body indicates it could only be Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls’ No. 1 overall draft pick in 2008 and the NBA rookie of the year.

The NCAA also said a man, believed to be Rose’s brother, received free transportation and board during away games that season.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Memphis will be forced to vacate the record 38 victories from its Final Four season of 2007-08 under former coach John Calipari because of NCAA violations, The Commercial Appeal reported.

The newspaper, citing an unidentified source close to the situation, said on its Web site Wednesday night the NCAA will release findings of its investigation Thursday. The Commercial Appeal said it was unaware of any penalties beyond this season.

The NCAA investigated whether someone took the SAT exam for a player on that Final Four team. Memphis was notified of potential violations in January and met with the governing body in June.

The NCAA has said an unknown person took the college entrance exam for a player – with his knowledge – and that the player used it to get admitted. The governing body says the athlete played for the Tigers only in the 2007-08 season and the 2008 NCAA tournament. Just one person fits that description: Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls’ No. 1 overall draft pick in 2008 and its rookie of the year.

“I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Rose said two weeks ago.

The NCAA planned a conference call for Thursday afternoon, and Memphis president Shirley Raines told The Associated Press the school would follow with a news conference.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner declined to comment early Thursday, deferring to university officials.

Memphis finished 38-2 in 2007-08, setting the NCAA record for wins in a season. The Tigers lost 75-68 to Kansas in overtime in the national championship game.

It would be the second time both Memphis and Calipari had to vacate Final Four seasons. The Tigers were stripped of their 1985 appearance and Calipari’s Massachusetts team lost its 1996 berth.

Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson, coach Josh Pastner and a team spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Calipari, appearing at the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday, would not elaborate because the report had not been officially released.

“We don’t know anything because I’m not going to comment because I have to wait on the finding,” Calipari said. “I would be disappointed if that’s what they chose to do.”

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, appearing with Calipari on Thursday, said he’s not concerned about the troubles at Memphis following Calipari to the Wildcats.

“I’m not worried about it because they have never said Coach Cal did anything wrong at all,” Beshear said. “I think he’s a very upstanding guy. I think that’s his reputation and I think that reputation will be with him here. I really don’t foresee any problems.”

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who hired Calipari from Memphis this year, declined to comment.

Barnhart told the AP last week that he’s not concerned about the potential violations that became known only after Calipari was hired. The coach has not been deemed “at risk” by the NCAA, and Barnhart stressed Calipari is eager to help the Wildcats win the right way.

“There’s one thing John says, ‘I want my banners to count for something and I want to put the rings on the fingers and let them stay there,'” Barnhart said. “That’s important to him and so he is embracing any help that we give him to make sure we’re able to, at the end of the day, not have to look over our shoulders and worry.”

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