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The John Wall Eligibility Situation in a Nutshell


This was supposed to be my night off. I already told Beisner that I wasnt even turning on my computer tonight and after Lachlan’s show I was going to be a dork and read and not think about Kentucky sports. But then along came the “breaking” story from ESPN on John Wall’s eligibility. Lets first get one thing straight. There is nothing “breaking” about this story. The question of Wall’s eligibility has been around for months and was even known to be an issue when he decided to go to Kentucky months ago. Everyone around UK believes it will be taken care of and no one is extremely concerned. UK’s confidence in his eligibility is shown by his appearance at Big Blue Madness and his participation in the Blue-White game. They expect him to play. So just because ESPN is only now noticing this issue, doesnt mean that the people that are relevant (UK, Wall, the NCAA, SEC), havent known about it for some time.

The issue basically boils down to this:

1. Players cannot take money from agents for the purpose of getting them to later sign with the agent and stay amateurs.

2. Brian Clifton, John Wall’s AAU coach, was a registered (although not practicing) agent up until 2008.

3. During that time, Clifton coached AAU basketball and as part of those coaching duties, accompanied his players on various unofficial visits to schools.

4. As with many AAU coaches, Clifton potentially paid some expenses on those trips (or that is a possibility…I dont think anyone publically knows for sure yet what was paid when) for his player.

5. While that is a common practice for AAU (and high school) coaches to pay expenses on such trips, Clifton’s role as a registered agent, makes it complicated.

So thats where the issue arises. These visits did not take place under Calipari (take note Forde), but actually were under Gillispie. It isnt clear whether it just is an issue about visits to Kentucky or other schools/events. That is what has been/is being investigated. No one alleges, including the NCAA, that Clifton paid such expenses to get Wall to sign with him as an agent. But NCAA rules may require Wall to pay such monies back, if they were in fact paid for his expenses. If so, the question of how much must be found and it taken care of, in order for Wall’s amateurism to be verified and his eligibility approved by the NCAA.

So that is where we are. This isnt a case of Wall taking money, or anything of the sort. It is the case of an AAU coach who should have been more careful in doing two jobs that can lead to situation like this, that of Agent/AAU coach. Now Wall will have to pay back whatever expenses were paid by his AAU coach and the media, who are looking for anything with UK/Calipari to feast on, have something to write about.

So with what we know now, it looks as if the worst case scenario is this…some amount of expenses or “benefits” are found to have taken place and the NCAA decides to enforce the rule provision that requires sitting out 10 percent of UK’s games…which I believe would be the first three. Best case scenario is that there are found to be no, or few, expenses and Wall is not suspended for any games after paying back any potential money that may have been spent on his behalf.

Oh how the UK world turns….

Article written by Matt Jones