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Is Kanter's situation John Calipari's fault?

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: No, it's not.

Since the New York Times published its story on Enes Kanter's apparent professional salary -- to review, Kanter's former GM says he was paid like a professional during his time at Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker and has submitted documents to the NCAA that confirm as much -- a few scattered reactions have included the notion that Kanter's potential ineligibility is another instance of Kentucky coach John Calipari being willing to flirt too closely with the line of impropriety. These sorts of reactions are natural, given Calipari's historical proximity to vacated seasons. But in this case, they're probably wrong.

Why? Because as far as we know, Calipari had little way of knowing whether or not Kanter was paid like a professional. If Kanter and his family said their son wasn't paid, and Calipari didn't speak with Kanter's former team, then the best Kentucky could do was recruit him, sign him, and hope the family was telling the truth. If not, Kentucky's compliance department and the NCAA would sort it out, and Kanter wouldn't play. This is how the system is supposed to work.

The key word there? Supposed. This is still a very a risky approach.

If the NCAA has proven anything this summer, it's that it's interested in placing the onus on schools and players to prevent ineligible players from making their way into situations that could eventually cost their teams off the court. It's Kentucky's job to be sure its players are eligible. If the school fails in this regard, the NCAA could too, and that's when Derrick Rose-Memphis-SAT-type situations happen. No one wants that. Calipari has been willing to flirt with this line countless times before, and it's cost his teams accordingly.

In the end, if Kanter is indeed deemed ineligible, Kentucky got lucky. If Fenerbahce general manager Nedim Karakas submitted the documents he says he submitted, he might have prevented UK from playing Kanter this season. The only thing worse than losing Kanter now would have been playing him and seeing yet another Calipari season end up vacated long after the fact. That's the kind of scandal Calipari can ill afford.

For now, though, based on what we know and what Calipari has told the media about his recruitment of Kanter, it seems hard for Calipari to have known Kanter was paid (assuming, of course, he was). Nor was Calipari the only coach to recruit Kanter; Washington coach Lorenzo Romar landed a commitment from him in November 2009, before the big man re-opened his recruitment and eventually ended up at Kentucky. If Calipari did know, he was taking a major risk trying to get Kanter eligible. Maybe he's comfortable with that risk. Or maybe he just thought the system would work before the risk materialized.

We don't know. And it probably won't matter. In the meantime, those looking for yet more ammunition for the "Calipari cheats" meme -- a meme that will stick with Cal for as long as he coaches for reasons that, despite Kentucky fans' constant protests against "jealous haters," are easy to understand -- would probably do best to look elsewhere. To this point, the ballad of Enes Kanter seems less sinister than that.