Memphis' James Wiseman Must Pay $11,500 To a Charity Of His Choice As Terms Of His NCAA Eligibility

Memphis freshman basketball player James Wiseman must sit out 12 games and pay $11,500 to a charity of his choice before he is eligible to play again this season, per an NCAA ruling announced Wednesday.

The NCAA announced a 12-game suspension for Wiseman's family accepting an $11,500 payment from someone considered a booster of the university. That booster was former Memphis and NBA star Penny Hardaway, who is now the Tigers head coach.

For a quick backstory, Hardaway donated $1 million to the school in 2008 so it could build a sports hall of fame. The donation amount is what led to him being a booster. Then while Hardaway was the head basketball coach at East High School in Memphis, he reportedly paid Wiseman's mother $11,500 in 2017 to move from Nashville to Memphis so Wiseman could play for Hardaway's grassroots program Team Penny.

James Wiseman
James Wiseman #32 of the Memphis Tigers walks up court during the first half of the game against the Oregon Ducks between the Oregon Ducks and Memphis Grizzlies at Moda Center on November 12, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Not only did Wiseman play for Team Penny, he enrolled at East High to play for coach Hardaway, who eventually left and became the coach at the University of Memphis.

Hardaway was named the Memphis head coach in the spring of 2018 to replace Tubby Smith, and Wiseman eventually chose the Tigers over the University of Kentucky, giving Memphis the nation's top recruiting class. Wiseman was the headliner of that Memphis class.

Though declared ineligible early in November, a Shelby County judge allowed Wiseman to play by way of a restraining order. Wiseman played two games before the university self-imposed Wiseman's ineligibility. He sat out one game before Wednesday's ruling. Since he has already served one game of suspension, he now only has to sit out 11 more games, starting with Wednesday night's home game against Arkansas-Little Rock.

Wiseman will miss games against Ole Miss, North Carolina State, Tennessee and the opening of American Athletic Conference play. He will be eligible to return for a conference road game Jan. 12 at the University of South Florida, which precludes a home game with conference-foe Cincinnati.

Along with his suspension, the NCAA said Wiseman has to pay $11,500—or the amount received by his family—to a charity of his choice. The NCAA repayment guidelines say, "Payment may be spread throughout the duration of a student-athlete's eligibility, but must be completed prior to the student-athlete's last regular season date of competition or contest."

Memphis, despite declaring Wiseman ineligible themselves, said it would appeal the NCAA's decision on "case precedent, the circumstances of this case and other mitigating factors."

"We expect a more fair and equitable resolution, and we will exhaust all avenues on James' behalf. James will not compete in this evening's contest," the university said after the ruling, according to ESPN.

Wiseman, who was the top college prospect for this season's freshman class and projected No. 1 pick in next year's NBA Draft, posted to Instagram after the NCAA's decision.

In three games this season, Wiseman has averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and three blocks. Once his brief suspension was announced Wednesday, the odds of Memphis winning the national championship 40-to-1 odds to 20-to-1 odds, according to Caesars.

"God has never left me nor forsake me throughout this process...Trust God, Keep the Faith, Stay the Course," he wrote.