(Mark Weber, Daily Memphian)
A year exactly following his commitment to the University of Memphis, James Wiseman must sit out a total of 12 games and must donate $11,500 to a charity of his choice. The statement came due to Hardaway’s aid in the Wiseman families’ relocation to Memphis during the 2017-2018 season. This happened well before Wiseman’s commitment and before coach Hardaway’s hire at the University of Memphis. According to the University, Wiseman was completely unaware of the donation to the family. The NCAA has also ruled Hardaway as a booster for life per his $1 million donations for the University’s new hall of fame named after him.
The situation, however, is a little more complicated than that. According to the University of Memphis, there had been an investigation over the matter back in May where the NCAA initially cleared Wiseman.
So why now?
When the NCAA told the university of the likelihood of his ineligibility, they never stated if Wiseman would definitely be ineligible for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. Despite the NCAA's warning, the University played Wiseman in the following two games due to a temporary injunction which allowed him to play.
After the University chose to play Wiseman, the NCAA stated:
“The University of Memphis was notified that James Wiseman is likely ineligible. The university chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are
eligible to play.”
Following the loss against Oregon, Wiseman withdrew his lawsuit in good faith that the NCAA would give him a fair and just ruling. Now, Memphis is getting the hammer. The NCAA made their decision "based on recruiting inducements his family received before enrolling at Memphis and for competition in three games while ineligible."
What happens next for Wiseman?
The University immediately stated that they would appeal for a 6 game suspension. This would have Wiseman back in time for rivalry game vs. Tennessee. However, the likelihood of this is slim. The lack of consistency in the NCAA leaves room for question as to how they will respond to this situation.
"The University will immediately appeal this decision. We expect a more fair and equitable resolution, and we will exhaust all avenues on James' behalf. James will not compete in this evening's contest."
It is also uncertain how Wiseman will pay $11,500 when he is not allowed to accept any loans or money as a college athlete. However, the troops are rallying behind him.Since the ruling, ESPN analyst Jay Williams has started a GoFundMe in Wiseman's honor.
As for the rest of the Tigers, they have still 12 games ahead of them without their star player. These include Ole Miss, NC State, Tennessee, Georgia, and conference opener. Until then, Wiseman, the University, and Penny Hardaway wait and hope that the NCAA doesn’t hold a grudge for them standing up to the big bad NCAA. As coach Hardaway stated, "This too shall pass".