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Breathing Easy For The Memphis Tigers For 2022 Season

On Tuesday, the Memphis Tigers got to finally exhale. Three years ago, the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) began its investigation into the University of Memphis’ NCAA rule violations in college basketball. They received a fine, probation, they must vacate wins, and vacate stats. No bans though for Tigers’ coach Penny Hardaway. Does this set a precedent for Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, and LSU?

The NCAA rule violations were around the recruitment of James Wiseman. The punishment is a $5,000 fine along with probation until September 25, 2025. They must vacate two wins and all of Wiseman’s stats from 2019.

Memphis’ James Wiseman Violations

In 2017, Penny Hardaway was coaching at East High School in Memphis, Tennessee where James Wiseman, a center, ended up playing. His mother accepted a payment of $11,500 from Hardaway to help with moving expenses from Nashville to Memphis. This became a Tigers violation because Hardaway at the time of giving her money was considered a University of Memphis booster. Later Hardaway was employed by the university as its head men’s basketball coach.

James Wiseman was ruled to be ineligible for the 2019 season, but the University of Memphis chose to play him in the Tigers’ first three games that season. The NCAA suspended Wiseman for 12 games. However, Wiseman left the University of Memphis program in December 2019 to prepare for the NBA Draft. He was later selected second overall by the Golden State Warriors.

Seven Violations

The University of Memphis faced seven violations. It was announced in March that four of them were Level I and three of the violations were Level II. The Tigers’ coach Hardaway was involved in at least one of the Level I violations and two of the Level II violations. The allegations accused Hardaway of not establishing a “culture of compliance.”

The IARP And Its Statement

The 15-person IARP panel was formed in 2019 at the suggestion of the Rice Commission on College Basketball. The commission was formed after the FBI’s investigation into bribery and fraud in college basketball. The IARP will dissolve once all IARP cases against Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, and LSU are completed.

“The IARP ‘concluded that Memphis failed to monitor the education and activities of the head coach by not providing sufficient education to him regarding permissible activities for boosters and failing to ask the head coach about any financial contributions he had made to prospective student-athletes and their families in the Memphis community or any other relationships he may have developed with the high school or AAU players he had coached. ‘The hearing panel also concluded that the institution’s leadership allowed [Wiseman] to participate in a November 5, 2019 basketball contest without informing the head coach until after the contest that [Wiseman] had been determined to be ineligible to play.'” IARP Release

The Findings

The IARP panel stated that Hardaway had “philanthropic involvement in the Memphis community,” and that this “began prior to becoming an athletic booster in 2008 and before he was hired by the Tigers as its head coach in 2018.”

The Tigers’ case “references numerous gifts and financial assistance” from Hardaway to the Memphis community. The panel used this action in the community from Hardaway to make its decision. “The hearing panel determined that the benefits provided by the head coach were generally available to all prospective students of Memphis, not only student-athletes, and therefore, were permissible.” The panel determined the case involved NCAA Level II and Level III violations.

University of Memphis Response

The Tigers officials weren’t angry about the outcome of this case because they were afraid the punishment was going to involve a postseason ban or a serious penalty for Hardaway.

Thank you Tiger Nation for your patience and support. Now, it's time to turn our focus back to the court. — Memphis Tigers (@TigersAthletics) September 27, 2022

What’s Next?

Four schools — Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, and LSU — haven’t gotten the chance to exhale. They are still awaiting the rulings from IARP. The Cardinals and the Wildcats have completed their hearings. Therefore, many are expecting that their rulings will be issued next. No one knows when that will be.

Fans of the teams became cautiously optimistic because they believe that the Memphis ruling sets a precedent for them. The difference between an NCAA ruling and the IARP that was immediately noticed was that the NCAA typically combined multiple violations into a single punishment. However, the IARP weighed each of Memphis’ infractions on its own.



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