09 November 2019 06:37

Memphis Tigers men's basketball James Wiseman Penny Hardaway

Memphis' James Wiseman, the nation's top recruit, gets court order to play after NCAA rules him ineligible

In one of the riskiest and most compelling decisions in the recent history of college athletes, the University of Memphis on Friday night decided to ignore the advice of the NCAA and play star forward James Wiseman against Illinois-Chicago. After Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, he sought and received an injunction by a local judge to put the NCAA's eligibility decision on hold. He showed up at the arena less than an hour before tipoff after the injunction was granted and scored 17 points in Memphis' 92-46 victory. While court injunctions for NCAA eligibility aren't unprecedented, there's been no case in the history of college athletics with the stakes, spotlight and player of his magnitude. And Memphis' decision to play him after the NCAA ruled him ineligible is bold, slightly crazy and potentially transformative.

With college sports at a tipping point, Memphis has made the boldest statement so far, showing it's not afraid to fall over the edge. After the NCAA ruled that Wiseman couldn't play, Wiseman got an injunction and Memphis played him. Memphis' James Wiseman comes down court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois-Chicago Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. Memphis released a compelling narrative about Wiseman, who moved from Nashville to Memphis as a high school student in 2017. At the time, Hardaway, now the head coach at the University of Memphis, was coaching high school and AAU locally, but he classified as a booster for the school because of a $1 million donation to his alma mater.

The gripe raised by Wiseman's attorney on Friday, according to the Commercial Appeal, was that the NCAA had already ruled Wiseman eligible in May knowing about that $11,500. The NCAA made it clear that they warned Memphis by saying in a statement: "The University of Memphis was notified that James Wiseman is likely ineligible. Check out the potential penalties below, and it's curious that Memphis would take a risk to play Wiseman against lowly UIC for penalties that range from forfeited games to potentially having to sit out the postseason. It's the great paradox of modern athletics that portends change, as big schools, big stars and bold university presidents like Rudd are revolting against NCAA convention. As college athletics have become a billion-dollar entertainment industry, the NCAA rules have become so antiquated and unpopular that the Memphis news was greeted on social media with cheers of revolutionary fervor.

Young later revealed that his absence is tied to "an NCAA eligibility issue." The issues aren't closely tied, as Memphis is playing Wiseman despite the advice of the NCAA and Ohio State appears to be following the NCAA's advice to hold out Young. Maybe Wiseman's day in court and Memphis' decision to play him are remembered as bold moves in the fight for athletes' rights. Maybe the NCAA hammers Memphis for being short-sighted enough to risk the future of the program to play Wiseman against UIC. Memphis freshman James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA but still took the floor in the Tigers' home game Friday after a Memphis court granted a temporary restraining order against the NCAA's decision. Wiseman, the No. 1 overall recruit and a potential future No. 1 draft pick, was granted the temporary injunction on an emergency basis by a Shelby County judicial court.

The judge's ruling came down less than an hour before Memphis tipped off against Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. ET. He was in the starting lineup and won the opening tip for Memphis before scoring 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds in the Tigers' easy 92-46 victory vs. Memphis issued a statement saying that Wiseman was originally going to be held out of the game, but its decision was reversed based on the court ruling. Based on a rule interpretation issued by the NCAA, University of Memphis freshman men's basketball student-athlete James Wiseman was going to be withheld from competition. However, based on an emergency temporary restraining order issued late today by the courts, James will participate in tonight's game. The University is currently working with the NCAA staff to restore his playing status, and we are hopeful for a speedy resolution to the matter. Initially, after a joint standard eligibility review by the University and the NCAA, as is common for all high-profile incoming student-athletes, James was declared eligible by the NCAA in May 2019. 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. "We support James' right to challenge the NCAA ruling on this matter. The University of Memphis firmly supports James, Coach Hardaway and our men's basketball program in this matter." "The University of Memphis is enjoying a tremendous period of positive momentum and success on multiple fronts including the excitement surrounding our men's basketball program," stated Laird Veatch, University of Memphis Director of Athletics. We will continue to be cooperative, respectful and professional in our dealings with the NCAA, while availing ourselves of every resource in the best interests of our student-athletes, our coach, and our University. While the ruling was widely reported on Friday, the Commercial Appeal reported the NCAA's ineligibility ruling actually came down just before Wiseman began his season on Tuesday against S.C. State. Wiseman played 22 minuntes in that game, scoring 28 points and adding 11 boards. Hardaway says Wiseman will continue to play After Memphis notched a 92-46 win over Illinois-Chicago Friday night, Memphis coach Penny Hardaway declined to comment about the NCAA's ruling but said that Wiseman will continue to play for Memphis as he did on Friday. "I can't talk about [the NCAA ruling]," said Hardaway. Wiseman's attorney, Leslie Ballin, said the NCAA believes Hardaway--the second-year Memphis coach who coached Wiseman in high school--helped finance Wiseman and his family's move to Memphis when he was in high school. Though the two have a long-standing kinship, Ballin says the NCAA deemed Hardaway a booster, leading to the ruling of Wiseman's ineligibility. Hardaway donated $1 million to the University of Memphis in 2008 to help fund the university's Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame, which by NCAA rules deems him a booster. Before landing Wiseman as a recruit at Memphis last fall, Hardaway, Ballin told reporters, financed the move in 2017. NCAA reacts to Wiseman playing UIC, the NCAA issued a statement expressing its disappointment that Wiseman was allowed to play. The NCAA deemed Penny Hardaway a Memphis athletics booster. On Friday, Memphis attorney Leslie Ballin announced that Memphis Tigers star freshman James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. The NCAA deemed Tigers coach Penny Hardaway a booster in perpetuity due to a $1 million donation made by Hardaway in 2008 to help fund the university's Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame. Because Hardaway helped facilitate Wiseman and his family's move from Nashville to Memphis in 2017, allegedly paying more than $11,000 to fund moving expenses, Wiseman's eligibility came into question. At the time, Hardaway, a former Memphis Tiger star, was the coach at East High School, where Wiseman played in 2017-18 and 2018-19. According to the NCAA, boosters are anyone who "plays a role in providing student-athletes with a positive experience through their enthusiastic efforts." Basically, anyone who helps support teams and their athletic departments through donation of either time or financial resources to help the student-athlete on and off the playing field or court. The NCAA deemed Hardaway's assistance to Wiseman fell into those categories. Assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student athletes or their families. Violations jeopardize an athlete's eligibility, which is exactly what happened in Wiseman's case. Memphis James Wiseman watches the game from the bench during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois-Chicago Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. James Wiseman had 17 points and nine rebounds hours after getting a temporary restraining order to play amid an NCAA ineligibility ruling, leading No. 14 Memphis past Illinois-Chicago 92-46 on Friday night. Memphis said Wiseman — the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft — was declared eligible by the NCAA in May but further details and investigation by the university and the NCAA found coach Penny Hardaway gave $11,500 in moving expenses to help Wiseman's family move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. The university said Wiseman didn't know about the money given to his family. At the time, Hardaway was the coach of East High School. Wiseman started and Memphis (2-0) immediately took a double-digit lead leaving the only doubt of the night the status of the 7-foot freshman who could be the top pick in next summer in the NBA draft. Less than two hours before the game, Wiseman's attorney, Leslie Ballin, announced that the NCAA had ruled Wiseman ineligible. With all of the attention on Wiseman, Boogie Ellis — another freshman among coach Penny Hardaway's highly touted class — scored 22 points. He made eight of his 11 shots, going 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and helped Memphis shoot 59% for the game. (AP) — Freshman star Cole Anthony had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead North Carolina. Weber State (0-1) scored the fewest points by an opponent in Logan since 2013. (AP) — Javonte Smart and Emmitt Williams each scored 21 points LSU opened its season with a victory over Bowling Green 88-79 on Friday night.