Memphis lawmakers take action after NCAA ruling on Wiseman

Memphis' James Wiseman comes down court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois-Chicago Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two Memphis lawmakers are adding language to state bills in response to the NCAA ruling against James Wiseman playing for the University of Memphis, while another said he will investigate the organization.

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Republican, and state Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Democrat, both said on social media Tuesday they would add new language to bills that would allow college athletes to profit from their likeness.

The added language reads, “No Tennessee public university may discriminate against a college athlete based on a donation to the university by a coach.”

“I want to remind everyone that state law trumps any rule that is created by the NCAA,” Rep. Parkinson said.

The announcements came days after the NCAA ruled Wiseman, a top potential NBA draft pick, was ineligible to play for the University of Memphis after his first game with the Tigers, although he was previously ruled eligible. A judge later issued a temporary order and Wiseman took the court at a recent game.

Tigers coach Penny Hardaway was classified as a booster following a donation to the school in 2008. In his previous job as a high school coach in 2017, Hardaway had given Wiseman’s family money to move to Memphis.

Both lawmakers criticized the NCAA’s ruling and said they don’t want former players to be discouraged from donating to universities, which helps keep tuition low.

“The NCAA is an archaic organization whose time has come and gone. It is up to the athletic conferences to create a new paradigm, as they did with the college football championship,” Kelsey said. “If the NCAA doesn’t correct this injustice by January, we’ll do it for them.”

The Tennessee General Assembly will be back in session in January.

Meanwhile, U.S. Congressman David Kustoff (R-Memphis), announced he will investigate the NCAA “due to their history of injustice towards college student athletes.”

“The NCAA has a history of unfair practices and playing favorites, and it’s time they face up to their improper conduct. I look forward to investigating their actions and doing what I can to ensure greater transparency for all student-athletes,” he said.

The Tigers are facing Oregon on Tuesday night.

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