• Joel Lerner
  • Derrick Rose when he was at Simeon in 2006

The Sun-Times‘s Michael O’Brien spotted my Tuesday Bleader item on Derrick Rose and wrote immediately to tell me one part of it was “simply not true.”

I’d recalled allegations that when Rose was back in high school at Simeon, (1) someone took the SAT for him and (2) his transcripts were submitted to colleges with a D changed to a C. Because of that SAT, the NCAA wiped out the entire season Rose played for the University of Memphis. But, I wrote, these allegations “never gained much traction in the Chicago press.”

“The grade-changing story was a Sun-Times investigation,” O’Brien told me. “The story was on the front page for two consecutive days, if my memory serves. The first day we had about six pages of the newspaper focused on it between news and sports.”

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible for the public to find old stories in the Sun-Times‘s digital archives—which means my Google search didn’t turn them up and O’Brien couldn’t give me a link to them. But he pasted into his e-mail the original story he wrote with Rosalind Rossi. It ran May 29, 2009, and it began:

A teacher handed Derrick Rose a “D” in the last semester of his senior year at Simeon High School.

But by the time the University of Memphis got the future Bulls star’s transcript, the “D” had been boosted to “C.”

Rose was one of four Simeon athletes who benefited from a one-month grade boost in June 2007, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday.

The grade changes were outlined in a 2008 report by the Chicago Public Schools inspector general, a report that did not name Simeon or Rose. However, sources said, Rose was among four Simeon basketball players whose grades were temporarily inflated after their graduation—just long enough for them to be reflected on transcripts sent to colleges.

The grade-changing revelations are the second allegation of academic fraud to surface against the NBA’s top 2008 draft pick in as many days.

On Wednesday, the Memphis Commercial Appeal published portions of an NCAA letter alleging a stand-in took the SAT for a student who went on to play for the University of Memphis during the 2007-2008 season. Multiple sources have told news outlets that player is Rose.

O’Brien, Rossi, and the Sun-Times deserve credit for their reporting, which apparently was more extensive than I recalled. But I’ll stand by my main point—and O’Brien doesn’t dispute it either. The stories didn’t stick. Led by Rose, the Bulls had just taken Boston, the defending NBA champs, to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. Rose had been named the league’s rookie of the year. Two-year-old history never seemed so ancient.