Memphis issued a statement Wednesday that it will appeal the ruling, citing “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,” the school added. “James will not compete in this evening’s contest [versus Arkansas Little Rock].”
Last week, Wiseman withdrew a lawsuit against the NCAA he had filed in connection with his eligibility, and the university said at the time that it was working to resolve the issue “expeditiously through the NCAA process.”
The suspension is retroactive to Memphis’s most recent game, a win over Alcorn State in which Wiseman did not play, and he will have to sit out the Tigers’ next 11 contests, as well.
The 7-feet-1, 240-pound forward played in Memphis’s first three games of the season, averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. On the day of the Tigers’ second game of the season, against Illinois Chicago, the NCAA told Memphis that Wiseman probably was ineligible.
The ruling stemmed from a payment of approximately $11,500 from Memphis Coach Penny Hardaway to Wiseman’s mother in the summer of 2017, just before she and Wiseman moved from Nashville to Memphis to play for the former NBA star, who was then the coach at East High. The NCAA regarded Hardaway as a Memphis booster at the time of the payment — he played three seasons at the school in the early 1990s and earned his bachelor’s degree there in 2003 — because of his $1 million donation to the school’s athletic department to construct a sports hall of fame in 2008, and such payments from boosters to recruits are not allowed under NCAA rules.
In response, Wiseman filed a lawsuit to obtain a temporary restraining order against the NCAA, claiming the payment was for “relocation and moving expenses” and that the NCAA had cleared Wiseman to play for Memphis in May. A Shelby County (Tenn.) judge sided with Wiseman, issuing an order allowing him to play against Illinois Chicago. He also played with the Tigers, then ranked 14th, in a loss last week to then-No. 13 Oregon.
“The NCAA is fully aware of the unique nature and challenges in this particular case, and the University is confident that the NCAA will render a fair and equitable decision consistent with its mission,” the school said in its statement last week.
CBS Sports reported that Memphis and the NCAA had been working on a resolution all week, with the sticking point the number of games Wiseman might have to sit out over the impermissible benefit.
“It has become clear to Mr. Wiseman that the lawsuit he filed last week has become an impediment to the University of Memphis in its efforts to reach a fair and equitable resolution with the NCAA concerning his eligibility status. Therefore, Mr. Wiseman advised his legal team that he wished to withdraw his lawsuit. There will be no further comment at this time,” the two law firms representing Wiseman said in a statement.