MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – New lines drawn, in the eligibility battle of Memphis Tigers basketball star James Wiseman against the NCAA.
Despite last week’s ruling by the NCAA ruling Wiseman ‘likely ineligible’, Wiseman is expected to play two more games ahead of a scheduled hearing next Monday in Shelby County Chancery Court.
One of Wiseman’s attorneys said Monday because the University of Memphis is a member institution of the NCAA, they needed to be in the legal complaint.
Other college basketball experts believe the short-term rewards of playing Wiseman also come with long-term risks for the Memphis Tigers basketball program.
In the 16-page complaint, Wiseman’s legal team contends he should be eligible to play for U of M, since the NCAA said back in May he was eligible. The NCAA changed course last week, stating he was ‘likely ineligible’ after new findings.
Wiseman’s attorneys claim moving expenses given by Penny Hardaway to Wiseman’s mother in 2017 came before Hardaway was head coach at the University of Memphis and before Wiseman’s recruitment by the school.
“He could have been in Nashville and signed with Memphis,” Randy Fishman – one of Wiseman’s attorneys – said. “The move to Memphis is inconsequential as to where he signs.”
NCAA leaders contend that Hardaway provided impermissible benefits, because his $1 million donation in 2008 to U of M’s athletic Hall of Fame made him an ‘indefinite booster’.
“I don’t know what that means. Does that mean forever? Does that mean a year? Does that mean 10 years?” Fishman said. “So that’s an issue in this lawsuit.”
“This is unusual, if not unprecedented,” ESPN 92.9 Host Gary Parrish said.
Parrish believes if Wiseman – and by extension Memphis – loses their legal challenge against the NCAA, the ramifications could be long-lasting – and negative – for the program.
“A postseason ban in future NCAA tournaments, scholarship reductions, a probation, a suspension for the head coach of playing a likely ineligible player, there is really no limit of what the NCAA can do if Memphis continues down this path and is not successful,” Parrish said.
NCAA attorneys this week could request the hearing set for next Monday be moved from Shelby County Chancery Court to federal court.
The Tigers will play Tuesday night against Oregon in a Top 25 matchup. Wiseman is expected to play.