MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis must vacate its record 38-win men's basketball season from 2007-08 after the NCAA rejected its appeal.
The NCAA announced Monday that its Infractions Appeal Committee ruled against Memphis, which was found to use an ineligible player, believed to be Derrick Rose. The Tigers lost in overtime to Kansas in the national title game that season.
The NCAA originally ordered Memphis to vacate the season and forfeit money on Aug. 20. Memphis had appealed, arguing the penalties were unprecedented and that the school was held to a strict liability when Rose was ruled retroactively ineligible for an SAT score that was invalidated by the Educational Testing Service in May 2008.
"The Infractions Appeals Committee found no basis to conclude that the penalty was excessive such that the Committee on Infractions had abused its discretion in imposing the penalty," the NCAA said in a release posted on its Web site.
The decision was based on a letter from the testing agency to the athlete that "not only made the student-athlete aware that his eligibility was in serious jeopardy, but that he would be declared ineligible if he did not respond to the letter," according to the committee's report to the NCAA.
The letters ETS sent Rose asking for more information were dated March 17, 2008 – while he was playing in the NCAA tournament – and April 10, 2008, days after the championship game loss. The only address the ETS had for Rose came when he took the test in high school while living in Illinois.
The decision will result in an asterisk beside Memphis' 38-2 season that had set the NCAA record for wins in a season and approximately $615,000 in lost tournament revenue. The infractions committee originally said it struck hard because the ineligible player was used the entire season. Rose played in all 40 games, starting 39.
The university issued a statement Monday, saying it was "extremely disappointed" and "strongly disagrees" with the decision. Memphis had kept a banner commemorating that season hanging in the rafters at FedExForum during its appeal, but that banner now will be taken down.
Memphis also asked the NCAA to take several steps to avoid this kind of problem in the future.
The university wants the NCAA to require the Educational Testing Service to notify universities of any investigations of student-athletes, something officials want the NCAA to start immediately to work out a plan to do just that. And Memphis wants the NCAA Eligibility Center to provide guidance and keep both schools and student-athletes informed on test score questions.
Memphis also endorsed the appeal committee's decision requiring the Committee on Infractions to explicitly state evidence supporting each penalty imposed on programs in the future.
"Without an open dialogue about ongoing issues, the University of Memphis and other NCAA members have less confidence in the abilities of the NCAA and ETS to work productively on behalf of student-athletes and the universities they represent," Memphis President Shirley Raines said in a statement.
"This issue requires immediate attention by both organizations."