Memphis star freshman and potential No. 1 NBA Draft pick James Wiseman has been suspended 12 total games based on recruiting inducements his family received prior to enrolling at the University of Memphis, the NCAA announced Wednesday evening. Wiseman sat out Memphis’ last game — a 102-56 win over Alcorn State — thus allowing his punishment moving forward to be an 11-game suspension. That clears his return for Jan. 12 when the Tigers take on South Florida in conference play.
As additional punishment, the NCAA also stipulates that Wiseman must pay $11,500 to a charity of his choice. The $11,500 is the exact dollar amount the NCAA found was paid from Memphis coach Penny Hardaway to Wiseman’s mother (before Hardaway was the Memphis coach) for moving expenses in 2017. Because Hardaway donated $1 million to help build the Penny Hardaway Athletic Hall of Fame, it makes Hardaway, by NCAA definition, a booster in the case despite a prior relationship with Wiseman and his family.
“The benefit was impermissible because of Hardaway’s status as a Memphis booster,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Hardaway had made donations to the school in the past, including $1 million to help build the Penny Hardaway Athletic Hall of Fame at the school. Boosters cannot provide financial assistance to prospective student-athletes, their family members or friends unless that assistance is generally available to other members of the student body and is not given based on athletics ability.”
Shortly after the final decision was handed down by the NCAA on Wednesday, the school released a statement of its own expressing the intent to immediately appeal as it seeks a “more fair and equitable resolution.”
“Based on case precedent, the circumstances of this case and other mitigating factors, the University will immediately appeal this decision,” the statement read. “We expect a more fair and equitable resolution, and we will exhaust all avenues on James’ behalf.”
Wiseman filed a suit against the University of Memphis and the NCAA to fight the previous ruling of ineligibility that was handed down prior to the Tigers’ first game, but withdrew that suit last week in hopes of reaching an expedient resolution. As part of that decision, Memphis ruled him ineligible and announced it would immediately apply for his reinstatement.
Wiseman was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2019 recruiting class, and is projected as the No. 1 overall draft pick by CBS Sports insider Gary Parrish in his latest 2020 NBA mock draft.