U of M declares Wiseman ineligible to play, will apply for reinstatement


James Wiseman announced in December of 2019 he would be leaving the University of Memphis to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Tigers basketball player James Wiseman has withdrawn his lawsuit against the NCAA and will be withheld from competition pending the university’s application for reinstatement.

In a released statement, the University of Memphis said they support Wiseman’s decision to  withdrew the lawsuit, saying it’s in the best interest of everyone to “resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process.”

“In order to move the matter forward, the University has declared James ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.”

“The NCAA is fully aware of the unique nature and challenges in this particular case, and the University is confident that the NCAA will render a fair and equitable decision consistent with its mission,” the university concluded.

The action against the NCAA was taken after Wiseman was deemed ineligible to play at Memphis because 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.

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.

Shortly after that the University of Memphis came to Wiseman’s defense in a release issued last Friday.

“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.”

More recently, Wiseman found himself at the center of another court case, but this time against the TSSAA in a case that dates back two years.

The ruling found both Wiseman and Ryan Boyce were ineligible to play at East High School in 2017, when the school won a state championship.

On Oct. 3, Judge Jim Kyle sided with the TSSAA, saying Wiseman and Boyce were in fact ineligible because of a prior relationship with then-East High head coach Penny Hardaway. Both Wiseman and Boyce played summer ball for Hardaway’s AAU team, Team Penny.

But both sides, the school and the TSSAA, declined to issue a statement on the ruling because the school is appealing the decision.

If the ruling stands, East High School could be forced to vacate its 2017-18 state basketball title.

Judge Kyle, the judge who sided with the TSSAA in this 2017 case, is the same judge who issued the temporary restraining order last Friday to allow Wiseman to keep playing for the Tigers. He’ll also be the judge that will hear the eligibility case of Wiseman versus the NCAA on Monday.

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