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Memphis star James Wiseman is declared ineligible after dropping lawsuit

PK Invitational - Memphis v Oregon
James Wiseman is Memphis’ leading scorer, averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games.
(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)

Freshman James Wiseman has withdrawn his lawsuit against the NCAA and Memphis, and the university has declared him ineligible for now while officials work to resolve the case.

It was a dramatic turn of events in Wiseman’s battle to regain his eligibility after the NCAA sidelined him for receiving impermissible benefits from Penny Hardaway before the former NBA star became Memphis’ coach.

Wiseman had obtained a temporary restraining order and had played in Memphis’ first three games, two after the order was granted Nov. 8. The 7-foot-1 center is Memphis’ leading scorer, averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds.

“The University supports the decision, as it believes it is in James’ and the men’s basketball team’s best interests to resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process,” Memphis said in a statement Thursday morning.

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The freshman’s attorneys announced on Twitter that Wiseman withdrew his lawsuit Thursday morning.

“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,” the law firm of Ballin, Ballin and Fishman wrote.

Memphis officials say they would immediately apply for Wiseman to be reinstated. Until then, Wiseman will be held out of games but can practice with the No. 13 Tigers (2-1).

“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,” officials said in the statement.

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NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn declined to comment Thursday when contacted by the Associated Press about Wiseman’s case. The NCAA made it clear hours after the temporary restraining order was granted that Wiseman was “likely ineligible.”

According to Wiseman’s lawsuit, the NCAA declared the center eligible in May after months of investigation and after Hardaway disclosed he gave $11,500 in moving expenses to help the player’s family move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017 — before Wiseman played at East High School as a junior for Hardaway. The university said in a statement that Wiseman didn’t know about the money given to his family.

Hardaway was hired by his alma mater as head coach in March 2018. Wiseman committed to Memphis and Hardaway in November 2018 as the gem in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for Hardaway.

Wiseman’s attorneys had said that the NCAA ruled him ineligible because Hardaway is considered a booster after he made a $1-million donation to the university’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. That would make Hardaway’s 2017 gift to the player’s family impermissible under guidelines for boosters.


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