Home / Sports / Like it or not, an important NCAA rule seems to have been broken in the James Wiseman case – but Memphis will fight

Like it or not, an important NCAA rule seems to have been broken in the James Wiseman case – but Memphis will fight



It is, undeniably, a complex story – so complex that it led thousands of people to spend their Friday night expressing strong opinions on social media without a good grasp of NCAA rules and how they are applied. But the simplest version of the great James Wiseman development is this: The year before Penny Hardaway was the Memphis coach, he was a Memphis booster that the NCAA has determined provided James Wiseman's family had about $ 11,500 to help them move from Nashville to Memphis so that the 5-star prospect could finish his prep career at East High, where Hardaway trained at that time.

And that is a pretty clear inadmissible advantage.

In fact, it would be a pretty clear unlawful benefit under the NCAA rules. , almost regardless of who gave the money, or for what reason, or wherever Wiseman eventually registered. The fact that the money came from the man who is now known as one of the best recruiters in sports, and who is currently training Wiseman at Memphis, only makes history juices. But a prospective student-athlete family who accepts about $ 1

1,500 from Hardaway – which even Memphis acknowledged Friday is exactly what happened – or someone who Hardaway is an obvious NCAA issue. It's the most important thing to remember here.

Does it stink?

Obviously it stinks.

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 is imprisoned in a high-profile NCAA case because of something that happened that he probably personally had nothing to do with. And although this has in some circles been twisted into a story about how Hardaway paid Wiseman's family to get him to register at Memphis, that's not really true at all. What Hardaway did is pay Wiseman's family in advance for Wiseman to register at East High. And when Hardaway got the Memphis job after Tubby Smith was fired after his sophomore year, Wiseman simply followed his high school coach to college.

It is important when it comes to framing the story.

But it is probably much less important when it comes to deciding whether or not Wiseman should play college basketball because, again, even the agreed facts in the case are problematic. Can Memphis make a convincing counter-argument? Perhaps. And let the record show that I would not completely rule out anything with involved lawyer Leslie Ballin. He once helped a woman hit a murder charge after she shot her preacher man after all. So maybe the NCAA will be easy work.

However, I am skeptical.

The truth is, whether Hardaway ever planned on training at Memphis or any other college, or whether Wiseman ever planned to play for Hardaway at When Memphis or any other college, when Hardaway provided about $ 11,500 to Wiseman's family, Wiseman risked to be punished by the NCAA.

Again, that is an unacceptable advantage.

Just as Brian Bowen's father should have known better than accepting an unlawful benefit from someone who worked for a clothing company, James Wiseman's mother should have known better than accepting an unlawful benefit from someone who was then a grassroots coach. Bowen paid for his father's NCAA sin. Now Wiseman – I repeat – may have to pay for his mother's NCAA sin.

And yes, I agree, the NCAA rules suck.

I've been writing about them and screaming about them for years and years and years. Put me in charge, and we'd change them all tomorrow, and none of that would be a problem. So if you think you hate the NCAA's current rules, just know that I hate them more. But unfortunately for Memphis and Wiseman, bad rules are still rules just as bad laws are still laws. You have to follow them or else. So here we are.

What's next, man, who knows?

Memphis officials are obviously digging – convinced they are being unfairly targeted by the NCAA in ways schools like Duke and Kentucky are not. Geoff Calkins, a columnist at The Daily Memphian wrote late Friday that a possible defense could be that Hardaway has helped dozens, if not hundreds, of families over the years – both families of athletes and non-athletes. So if North Carolina can strike an NCAA case by claiming in part that its fraudulent classes were not unacceptable benefits because they were available to both athletes and non-athletes, Memphis might argue that Hardaway's money is not an unlawful benefit because it was also available to both athletes and non-athletes.

I would say that, good luck.

But in any case, Memphis will fight. The school and Wiseman made it clear on Friday. If it comes at a cost, it comes at a cost – and the cost can be significant. But make no mistake, Memphis will fight.

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