Memphis Tigers star freshman James Wiseman is expected to be one of the top picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, but he’s facing a battle with the NCAA after being ruled ineligible on Friday.
Why did the NCAA rule Wiseman ineligible?
Hours before Memphis’ game against UIC on Friday night, it was reported that Wiseman would miss the game after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
According to a statement by the University of Memphis, the NCAA cleared Wiseman in May of 2019 following a “joint standard eligibility review” with the University – but after further investigation, it was determined that current Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway gave the Wiseman family thousands of dollars to aid with their move to Memphis. Following the move, Wiseman played for the high school team Hardaway coached at the time.
Hardaway was not employed by Memphis at the time, and later took the job in 2018. According to the statement, Wiseman was not aware that Hardaway gave his family money. According to Wiseman’s attorney, the NCAA informed Memphis that Wiseman was ruled ineligible on November 5th, before Memphis’ season opener, which Wiseman played in.
Via the Commercial Appeal:
James was declared eligible by the NCAA in May 2019. However, based on information that necessitated a deeper investigation, the University began to work alongside the NCAA in investigating the matter. After several months of interviews and, after a review of documentation, it was determined that in the summer of 2017, while James was a high school student and prospective student-athlete, Penny Hardaway provided $11,500 in moving expenses to assist the Wiseman family in their relocation to Memphis, unbeknownst to James.
Particularly given the unique circumstances in this case, we are hopeful for a fair and equitable resolution on James’ eligibility,” stated University of Memphis President M. David Rudd. “We support James’ right to challenge the NCAA ruling on this matter. The University of Memphis has high standards of ethical conduct for all faculty, staff and students, and we take seriously any allegations or conduct that is not aligned with our mission. We will acknowledge and accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws. The University of Memphis firmly supports James, Coach Hardaway and our men’s basketball program in this matter.
Why was Wiseman able to play on Friday?
Wiseman filed a lawsuit on Friday arguing that the NCAA already had information about the financial assistance his family received from Hardaway, and still ruled him to be eligible in May.
Via the Commercial Appeal:
The lawsuit also states that “all information regarding Mr. Hardaway’s financial assistance to Ms. Artis and other points of inquiry were shared with the NCAA prior to certification of Mr. Wiseman’s eligibility.”
On Oct. 31, however, the University of Memphis received a bylaws interpretation from the NCAA alleging that “certain recruiting violations had taken place in order around the summer of 2017,” according to the lawsuit.
A Shelby County judge granted an injunction on the NCAA’s ruling, which allowed Wiseman to make a surprise return to the floor on Friday night.
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