East HS continues fight with TSSAA over player eligibility

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - - Former NBA standout Penny Hardaway gets a big win today, not on the court, but in the courtroom. He coaches Memphis East High School's basketball team. Today, a judge ruled two star basketball players on the team can keep playing, at least for now.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association says the school cheated, but the school says no.

This was as a crucial ruling for East High. The two time defending state champs are number one in the country and keeping those two players gives them their best chance at another title.

"I feel happy because the boys are still allowed to play. That's all that matters is that, you know, they're able to play basketball," said Hardaway.

The two students are senior Ryan Boyce and junior James Wiseman.

"They're student athletes, and all they want to do is go to school and play basketball," said Hardaway.

The question is: are they doing it fairly? Last month, TSSAA said they couldn't play, arguing the school, in essence, recruited the students to play ball. TSSAA says it's a violation of the "athletic coaching link" rule.

"This is about a school that has decided it wants to assemble its championship team its own way and ignore the rules," TSSAA attorney Richard Colbert says.

Boyce and Wiseman played on an outside team linked to Hardaway. TSSAA claims Hardaway used his influence to get the boys to transfer and play for him at East High.

"The rule can be talked about with the attorneys. I don't really want to touch that," said Hardaway.

For now, a Chancery Court judge says the players can continue to play until the next court date.

"I rule that the coaching link rule is not clear on its base or application," said Chancellor Jim Kyle.

That's not up for debate but it's unclear when a final decision on the players' status will be made.

"They've been playing in the last couple games. They've been very excited and we've been excited to have them back," said Hardaway.

The team takes on Webster Groves tomorrow night at 6 pm on ESPN 2. Their opponent is ranked 13th in the country.

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