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The NCAA has put the Memphis Tigers on a three years’ probation with a fine and budget cut for the men’s basketball program.
It’s been a total of 34 months since an investigation opened on Memphis’s head coach Penny Hardaway, but the Independent Accountability Review Panel found that the former Tigers basketball star didn’t violate NCAA rules when he provided benefits to three prospective players, the main one being NBA center James Wiseman, for his program due to his philanthropy in the city.
However, the panel found that Memphis committed four Level II violations and five Level III violations, which resulted in a $5,000 fine and a 0.25% budget cut of the men’s basketball program along with the three years’ probation that will run through Sept. 26, 2025.
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There will be no tournament ban for the Tigers, which means Hardaway is allowed to take his team into March Madness throughout the duration of the probation. The Tigers were knocked out in the second round last March.
“Now that the IARP has arrived at its final decision, we are ready to turn the page and continue supporting our coaches and student-athletes on the court and in the classroom,” Memphis vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Laird Veatch said in a statement via ESPN. “As we noted in the response to the Notice of Allegations, we have proactively made efforts to enhance our athletic compliance infrastructure and will continue to do so.”
Hardaway was initially accused of being involved in a Level I violation and two Level II violations by the NCAA enforcement staff after he “failed to demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program.”
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Memphis did, however, acknowledge in Nov. 2019 that Hardaway provided $11,500 in moving expenses for Wiseman, now with the Golden State Warriors, to help his family move from Nashville to Memphis in 2017.
At the time, Hardaway was not Memphis’s head coach, but rather Wiseman’s coach of his Nike EYBL circuit team. But the NCAA considered him a booster due to his $1 million donation to the school in 2008 to help build up the Hall of Fame there.
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Wiseman was not able to play a full season at Memphis, as the NCAA deemed him receiving improper benefits and made him ineligible after three games. Wiseman initially had a lawsuit against the NCAA but dropped it and applied for reinstatement. He was, then, suspended 12 games to which he decided to leave and prepare for the NBA Draft (Wiseman would be selected second overall to the Warriors).
Hardaway is looking ahead now, saying, “We have finally arrived at the end of an extremely challenging period, and I could not be more grateful.”
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“I would like to thank our players and their families, as well as our coaches and our support staff, for continuing to focus on what we could control as this process lingered. Believe me, none of this was easy, but this group always had faith,” he said in a statement.