NCAA says James Wiseman ineligible to play for Memphis basketball

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.  — Local attorney Leslie Ballin said Memphis basketball player James Wiseman has been ruled ineligible to play for the University of Memphis.

Ballin said the NCAA declared Wiseman ineligible to play at Memphis because head coach Penny Hardaway helped Wiseman and his family move from Nashville to Memphis. Hardaway is considered a booster by the NCAA because he donated to the U of M in 2008.

Ballin said he has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the U of M on behalf of Wiseman.

A statement from the U of M said Hardaway provided $11,500 to Wiseman's family in 2017 while he was in high school to help the family move from Nashville to Memphis, but Wiseman was not aware of the payment.

“Particularly given the unique circumstances in this case, we are hopeful for a fair and equitable resolution on James’ eligibility,” said University of Memphis President M. David Rudd. “We support James’ right to challenge the NCAA ruling on this matter. The University of Memphis has high standards of ethical conduct for all faculty, staff and students, and we take seriously any allegations or conduct that is not aligned with our mission. We will acknowledge and accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws. The University of Memphis firmly supports James, Coach Hardaway and our men’s basketball program in this matter.”

The U of M said local courts issued a restraining order Friday, allowing Wiseman to play in Memphis' game Friday at FedExForum against Illinois-Chicago.

The NCAA made the following statement about Wiseman playing in Friday's game.

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.

“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. “This matter is extremely unfortunate and frustrating at this special time in our history. 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. It is clear to me in my short time here that Memphians will stand up and fight, both for each other and for what is right, and I am proud to stand with them.”

Memphis had its 2007-08 season vacated, which included a national runner-up finish and a school-record 38 wins, when Derrick Rose was declared academically ineligible.

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