MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Tiger basketball star James Wiseman is now just one week away from his first day in court against the NCAA, but thanks to a temporary restraining order, he is still allowed on the court.
Wiseman is a force on the court, but his legal team said Wiseman feels uncomfortable being thrust into the national spotlight due to his pending lawsuit with the NCAA.
“He doesn’t want to cause a problem for the university," Randy Fishman, an attorney representing Wiseman, said. "He doesn’t want to cause a problem for his teammates. I don’t think he cares about being the focus of attention. He like so talk on the basketball court from what I’ve seen.”
After being ruled ineligible by the NCAA last Friday, Wiseman's legal team filed a temporary injunction, allowing him to play that night. They will meet the NCAA in Shelby County Court next Monday, where they will provide proof for a restraining order moving forward. If successful, the NCAA would have to pursue a trial against Wiseman at an unknown future date.
The issue revolves around head coach Penny Hardaway as a University of Memphis booster, following a monetary gift to the university in 2008 and a payment to Wiseman’s family for moving expenses in 2017. Wiseman’s legal team said the term booster is arbitrary and should not have baring on Wiseman’s eligibility.
“If you’ve made a donation to a university, does that mean that I can never become affiliated with the basketball program? I can’t become the coach?" Fishman said. "If I become the coach, I can’t recruit? It’s just an odd set of facts.”
Wiseman’s defense team said the idea that Hardaway was manipulating Wiseman’s family to play for him at Memphis is unfounded, particularly because he helped the family move at a time when Tubby Smith was still the team’s head coach.
“Hardaway would had to have a crystal ball and be pretty damn good at reading it to determine that he’d be the head coach when he became the head coach," Fishman said.
While the NCAA has a long track record of pursuing athletes for improper benefits, the dynamic between Wiseman and Hardaway makes for a one-of-a-kind case. While the result in court is unpredictable, Wiseman’s team on the court, and in the courtroom, feels good about its chances.
“I’ll just say that we wouldn’t have filed this lawsuit if we didn’t feel confident," Fishman said.
WREG reached out to the NCAA for additional comment but have not yet heard back.
NCAA statement on James Wiseman: pic.twitter.com/B4hClOQxMj
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) November 9, 2019