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Thursday, May 28, 2009
Not Smelling Like a Rose


Remember back when Derrick Rose was in high school, and there were all those articles about how Derrick was so lucky to have his brothers keeping him away from all the scum of recruiting?

Now it's time to start asking how well that worked out.

Of course, you have probably seen the reports about how Memphis is being investigated for this and that. Derrick Rose's brother Reggie's name is coming up a lot. ESPN.com News Services:

Another violation alleged by the NCAA was that a person, according to sources Rose's brother, Reggie, was permitted to travel on the team plane at no cost on two different occasions. The value of the trips was $1,125. The same person was allowed to stay in the team hotel at no cost on five different occasions for a value of $1,135.

"We sell seats all of the time," Johnson said of the team plane. "Anybody is eligible to go. We don't say, 'You can't go because of this or that.' If they pay, they'll go. We'll continue to do that. The way finances are, that's one of the big things on a charter, you have to do things that will help your team. Tiger fans get to go on the charters [if they pay]."

In basketball circles, while Derrick was at Memphis, Reggie was a mystery. He split time between Memphis and Chicago. He jetted around. But he didn't have any obvious means of support.

Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked Reggie Rose about it at the time. This is how he responded:

"I've got an AAU foundation out of Chicago through Nike, and I'm a director, and I work with inner-city youth in Chicago," he said. "I'm employed by Nike through AAU basketball. Then I've got a nonprofit organization that helps out kids from the Englewood community."

Wait, did Reggie Rose misunderstand that question? He was asked how he makes money, not how he gives it away. Aren't non-profits for giving goods and services away?

I know some people who work in the non-profit world. Money is tight all around! It's something people tend to do as a sinkhole of money -- not as a source. Reggie Rose tells us he's integral to not one, but two, non-profits.

This is a fascinating answer, in this day and age. I have mentioned more than once on TrueHoop that basketball sources are buzzing about the increased use of non-profits as ways to solve the age-old problem of needing to funnel money to recruits who are supposed to be amateurs. That was a factor in the O.J. Mayo case, and word is non-profits are popping up more regularly around young prospects.

(And let me add here, that I don't much care about someone like Derrick, or even Reggie, Rose making some money. In my perfect world, elite players like Rose would realize the value of their work in above-board fashion -- instead of navigating the underworld of amateur basketball. What concerns me are the people paying. Who are they? What do they want? Why are they so unwilling to let players act freely? When cash is king in steering players to this or that college, agent, sponsor or something else, then we as fans are investing our energy and passion into an endeavor that is not what it purports to be. I'm in the business of understanding what it really is.)

You hate to second-guess somebody's community work, though. So I tried like crazy to find records of Reggie Rose's non-profit. Non-profits are required to file various papers, which are searchable online. Searching every way I know how, I could not find any Chicago-area non-profit with Reggie Rose's name on it. (I also talked to Wolken, who tells me he did the same thing, with the same result.) I found various things with names and missions that theoretically could have been his foundation. But not with Reggie Rose's name.

And here's another weird thing: If you're running a non-profit, and you're close to super-famous Derrick Rose, then you have one thing going for you: The media is all over Derrick Rose, and the media can help you spread the word and raise money. And it's a good cause! You're helping kids! This foundation could even boost Derrick's profile in the eyes of NBA teams and potential corporate sponsors. Wouldn't you be singing the story of the non-profit into every microphone that strayed near you? Where are the photos from this non-profits events?

I also searched for times Reggie Rose mentioned his non-profit to the media. The only one I could find was in response to Wolken's question about how Rose supported himself. 

Help me out here. Help Reggie Rose out. Fill in the gaps. There must be a non-profit or two out there which were the source of Rose's income. Let's find them. Maybe you can search better than I can.

There are two main resources I know about for searching non-profit records: The Foundation Center and Guidestar.

Can you find anything?

And if we can find records of a non-profit, then we can get into the really interesting question of finding out whose money was supporting that foundation.