Making (Up) The Grade

June 2, 2009
Derrick Rose, Kevin Johnson, and Tim Flowers were teammates on the boys’ basketball team at Simeon High School in Chicago.  Rose went on to play college basketball at the University of Memphis.  Johnson and Flowers both attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  All three were done at their respective schools after their freshman year.  Rose led Memphis to an NCAA record 38 victories and a berth in the NCAA Men’s National Championship.  He was the top overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft and won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.  Johnson left school and is currently serving time in jail for armed robbery and aggravated resisting arrest.  Flowers transferred to Kennedy-King Community College and will play for Chicago State next year. 

The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that Rose, Johnson, and Flowers were among the beneficiaries of a grade-changing scandal at Simeon High School.  Sources say Rose earned a “D” in one of his classes, but by the time Memphis received his official transcript, the grade had been changed to a “C.”  The grades were then changed back to reflect the original “D” on Rose’s permanent record at Simeon High School.  New information has surfaced alleging a stand-in took Rose’s S.A.T. for him.  I am not going to blast Derrick Rose for this.  It would be easy to blame the now superstar millionaire basketball player for cheating.  No, this mess goes a little deeper.  Derrick Rose had lots of help.  Only administrators can send official transcripts.  An adult had to change the transcript grade and then change it back. 

 An adult likely found the stand-in that took Rose’s test for him. 
I can only imagine how the situation unfolded.  Derrick Rose was good enough to play in the NBA right out of high school, but the NBA changed its eligibility age to 19.  So, Rose had to attend college for at least a year in order to realize his dream.  The adults around him thought they were helping a kid.  They may have.  If he stays healthy, Derrick Rose will make millions of dollars and live a very comfortable life through basketball.  What about Kevin Johnson and Tim Flowers?  What kind of life will each of them have?  It seems Flowers will get a second chance at Chicago State, but Johnson has become another unfortunate statistic.  How much did the grade-changing scandal hurt them?  There are more stories like Kevin Johnson and Tim Flowers than there are like Derrick Rose.  Many athletes are pushed through school because of their ability and ultimately reach a point where the special favors stop.  Enabling turns an All-American into an inmate and a student-athlete into a college dropout.

What can we do?  Well, it’s simple but not always easy.  Let kids do their own work.  Sit at the kitchen table and show them how to work the problem out for themselves.  If they earn a “D,” enroll them in summer school.  Be the example of honesty and sportsmanship you want from your kids.  Tell them about how the easy path will often lead you backwards.  Until next time…

Be a Good Sport!

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