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Sport Opinion: Do the right thing NCAA, and free Memphis' James Wiseman

20:30  09 november  2019
20:30  09 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Report: NCAA declares potential No. 1 overall pick Wiseman ineligible in shock ruling

  Report: NCAA declares potential No. 1 overall pick Wiseman ineligible in shock ruling James Wiseman is 7-1 behemoth and a definite lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.It's been a banner day for the NCAA, which this morning influenced Ohio State to hold out star edge rusher Chase Young for taking a loan from a family friend. In their latest actual ruling, they've declared Wiseman ineligible, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Memphis ' James Wiseman (32) is congratulated by D.J. Jeffries (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Carolina Wiseman was a standout junior, helping Hardaway win his third straight Tennessee Class AAA title before being hired by Memphis as head coach at his

The NCAA informed Memphis that its star freshman James Wiseman is "likely ineligible" to play, possibly for the rest of the season. Let's unpack the allegations against Wiseman and head coach Penny Hardaway to determine how this situation might play out.

Free James Wiseman.

That’s the compassionate thing — the right thing — for the NCAA to do. Let Wiseman continue to play this season for Memphis and, yes, for Memphis coach Penny Hardaway, who technically, apparently, allegedly broke NCAA rules in 2017 when Wiseman was a high school player and Hardaway was a high school coach.

Two years later, Wiseman is the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. He’s also, and this is the crux of the matter, a freshman center at Memphis. Where Hardaway now coaches.

Memphis' Wiseman has restraining order allowing him to play while he fights NCAA ruling he's ineligible.

  Memphis' Wiseman has restraining order allowing him to play while he fights NCAA ruling he's ineligible. Memphis freshman James Wiseman has restraining order allowing him to play while he fights NCAA ruling he's ineligible.MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis center James Wiseman has a temporary restraining order to play while the heralded freshman fights an NCAA ruling that he's ineligible to play for coach Penny Hardaway and the Tigers.

James Wiseman , a top basketball prospect expected to star for the University of Memphis this season, filed a lawsuit against the N.C.A.A. and the university on Friday after the sport’s governing body declared him ineligible to play.

Wiseman is the No. 1 NBA prospect in college basketball, the star of a recruiting class built to lead Memphis to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. And now he's ensnared in a high-profile NCAA case because of something that happened that he probably personally had nothing to

The James Wiseman eligibility story at Memphis is not a black-and-white issue, no matter how hard any of us — fans, haters, neutrals, even (especially) the NCAA — try to see it that way. Now, I’ll give you this: If you see the James Wiseman story only through the prism of the NCAA rulebook, well, it is black-and-white. He should be ineligible. That’s what the rulebook says. If you lack the energy or compassion to look at this any other way, congratulations. This kaleidoscope of a world must be so easy for you.

Kodiak Brown standing in front of a crowd: Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman is introduced before their game against the South Carolina State Bulldogs at the FedExForum on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.© Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman is introduced before their game against the South Carolina State Bulldogs at the FedExForum on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

For the rest of us …

This one is crushing, because it’s so damn hard.

Memphis basketball, Penny Hardaway are taking a big risk with James Wiseman | Giannotto

  Memphis basketball, Penny Hardaway are taking a big risk with James Wiseman | Giannotto There was risk and reward to be had when it came to hiring Penny Hardaway as Memphis men's basketball coach. The risk arrived Friday night.The rewards have been plentiful thus far. A No. 1 recruiting class. A full FedExForum. A national championship contender. A return to relevancy, both locally and across the college basketball world.

Memphis forward James Wiseman , the No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2019 class and potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, played in the Tigers’ 92-46 win “ James has a right to do what he did , and we’re moving forward from it.” When asked about the NCAA ’s statement—which said the “university

The NCAA sits on a fault line, ground shifting beneath its feet—feet which often seem encased in cement when it comes to nimbly adapting to changing The NCAA released a statement Friday night during the Tigers' game about Memphis letting Wiseman play despite being ruled "likely ineligible."

For those who don’t know the critical details, they are these: Wiseman had just finished his sophomore year of high school in Nashville in the summer of 2017 when Hardaway — his grassroots coach — gave Wiseman’s mother $11,500 to move to Memphis … where, yes, he would play for Hardaway at Memphis East High.

RISK & REWARD: Memphis, Penny Hardaway walking the line with Wiseman

WISEMAN INELIGIBLE: What we know about the NCAA ruling

As the story goes, the family wanted to be closer to Wiseman’s sister, a student at Memphis. If you don’t believe that story, and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association did not, the story is sideways already. Wiseman was declared ineligible to play at East, because the TSSAA is as heartless as the IHSAA here in Indiana, but he won a temporary restraining order; the case was never resolved, and Wiseman played his junior and senior seasons at Memphis East.

James Wiseman eligibility: Explaining the NCAA questions on Penny Hardaway, Memphis star

  James Wiseman eligibility: Explaining the NCAA questions on Penny Hardaway, Memphis star Everything you need to know about James Wiseman's eligibility case at Memphis and what it means for him, the Tigers' basketball team and the NCAA going forward.Before he could even take the court for the Tigers, though, he became tangled in an eligibility case that could have lasting repercussions for the NCAA or Memphis, or both.

Memphis forward James Wiseman , the No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2019 class and potential No. 1 in the 2020 NBA draft, has been ruled ineligible, his Memphis attorney Leslie Ballin says that the NCAA determined Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway helped Wiseman and his family move to Memphis

Second, Memphis center James Wiseman . Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a #WojBomb on the college basketball world on Friday, hours before Then things got messy as Wiseman ’s attorney Leslie Ballin — a name instantly beloved by the internet — revealed that Penny Hardaway paid thousands of

By then, Hardaway was the coach at Memphis.

And while this has nothing to do with the NCAA’s ruling of ineligibility — hard to believe, but true — that coaching change looks weird, too. Memphis had fired Tubby Smith after just two seasons, when he won 19 and 21 games, ostensibly because the school wasn’t selling tickets and was losing money. To fire Smith with a 40-26 record after just two seasons, the school paid nearly $10 million to buy out his contract. Does that make sense?

Maybe this does: The school hired legendary alum Penny Hardaway before the 2018-19 season, a favorite son Memphis knew would energize the fan base. And he has.

But the school also knew — had to know — that in one year he would bring future NBA lottery pick James Wiseman into the program.

Sins of the mother

It’s complicated, this story, and here’s why the NCAA decided Wiseman cannot play for Memphis, ever: Not because Hardaway was his high school coach, or his AAU coach. And not even, technically, because he gave Wiseman’s mother $11,500 to move the family to Memphis in 2017. No, Wiseman is ineligible at Memphis for something that happened in 2008, when the kid was 7 years old:

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Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA , but a court order allowed him to play in Friday's game.

James Wiseman , a top basketball prospect expected to star for Memphis this year, filed a lawsuit against the N.C.A.A. and the university on Friday after the sport’s governing body declared him ineligible to play. A judge issued a temporary restraining order that cleared him to play in the next game.

Hardaway, a former Memphis Grizzlies player with gobs of NBA money, donated $1 million to fund the school’s Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame. That, according to the NCAA, made Hardaway a Memphis booster in perpetuity. Which made his $11,500 gift to the Wiseman family in 2017, nine years later, a violation.

Confusing? It’s about to get worse. After Wiseman signed with Memphis, the school told the NCAA about the $11,500 moving expenses. The NCAA knew. It studied Wiseman’s eligibility from all angles, as it does with every super-elite prospect, and deemed him eligible in late May …

… until Oct. 31, when the NCAA told the school: We’ve changed our mind. Wiseman isn’t eligible after all. Play him, the NCAA was warning Memphis, and we’ll forfeit your whole damn season.

a man standing in front of a crowd: Memphis' James Wiseman (32) high fives fans as he takes the court Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, before an exhibition game against LeMoyne-Owen at FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis. Memphis won 88-63.© Max Gersh/The Commercial Appeal Memphis' James Wiseman (32) high fives fans as he takes the court Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, before an exhibition game against LeMoyne-Owen at FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis. Memphis won 88-63.

Memphis won an injunction in a local court. It’s playing Wiseman, knowing the NCAA still has the authority to forfeit the 2019-20 Memphis basketball team — and then crush the program with sanctions — after the season is complete.

Want another layer of complication to this whole thing? Here you go: James Wiseman never knew Hardaway had helped his family move in 2017. Nobody told him. Maybe his mom was too proud to admit to her son that she couldn’t afford moving expenses. Whatever the case, the kid didn’t know.

Memphis declares James Wiseman ineligible while it works toward resolution with NCAA

  Memphis declares James Wiseman ineligible while it works toward resolution with NCAA James Wiseman withdrew his lawsuit against the NCAA, indicating a settlement could be in the works. Wiseman and his legal team filed a notice of voluntary nonsuit Thursday in a show of good faith toward the NCAA just days before a hearing in Shelby County Chancery court was scheduled for Monday.The firms representing Wiseman —  Ballin, Ballin and Fishman, as well as Farese, Farese and Farese — issued a statement: "It has become clear to Mr.

Memphis star freshman James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA , his lawyer said Friday night. Ballin said a Shelby County court judge ruled to put a hold on the NCAA 's ruling, pending further litigation. The ruling means Wiseman will be eligible to play Friday night against Illinois-Chicago.

Memphis freshman James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA but still took the floor in the "We support James ' right to challenge the NCAA ruling on this matter. The University of Memphis has high Before landing Wiseman as a recruit at Memphis last fall, Hardaway, Ballin told reporters

So those are the facts, and they completely, totally stink. On the one hand, based on everything we know about the way the NCAA has worked for decades, Wiseman cannot play for Memphis. Maybe he cannot play anywhere. The sins of the mother, and all that. It’s one of those cold-blooded concepts we’ve accepted as fact over the years, because that’s the way the NCAA has always done things.

But the NCAA is changing how it’s doing things. It’s going for, finally, more compassion. It’s looking into allowing athletes to make money off their likenesses, money that for years was pocketed by the schools — and by the NCAA — while students were told room-and-board was all they deserved for their role in this billion-dollar business.

The NCAA also is allowing players to transfer much more freely, finally acknowledging that kids choose schools because of the coach — and if the coach leaves, well, the kid should be able to find another school (and coach) to play for.

But here, compassion is gone. Penny Hardaway did something when James Wiseman was 7 years old. What Hardaway did in 2008 was completely legal, and for more than a decade it looked awfully generous — until 11 years later, when the NCAA wants us to believe it looks illegal, even nefarious.

Your fault, NCAA

And after all of this, who did the NCAA determine should pay the ultimate price? James Wiseman. But not in May, when the NCAA had the facts to make that ruling and Wiseman still had the chance to play for another school. No, the NCAA said: Let’s make this ruling on Oct. 31, when it’s too late for Wiseman to pick another school.

The NCAA, after screwing up, said: Let’s crush the kid.

No, NCAA. Let’s not.

Let this one go. Let Wiseman play. Decide that this issue is so gray, so completely and hopelessly gray, that you’re allowing Wiseman to play in college for his AAU coach, for his high school coach, for one of the most legendary basketball names in state history.

There may well be some guilty parties in this story, whether guilty of avarice or, in the case of the NCAA, incompetence.

But there is at least one completely innocent person here.

Free James Wiseman.

Find IndyStar columnist Gregg Doyel on Twitter at @GreggDoyelStar or at www.facebook.com/gregg.doyel.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Opinion: Do the right thing NCAA, and free Memphis' James Wiseman

Memphis star freshman James Wiseman suspended 12 games, cleared to play in January .
Memphis star freshman James Wiseman suspended 12 games, cleared to play in JanuaryWiseman, a 7-foot center, is the potential No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft.

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