Memphis declares star freshman James Wiseman ineligible

Memphis center James Wiseman.
Memphis center James Wiseman has been ruled ineligible. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

Memphis Tigers star freshman James Wiseman has been declared ineligible by the university. In a statement Thursday, Memphis announced the news, adding it would apply for Wiseman’s reinstatement immediately.

The 18-year-old Wiseman was under investigation after his family reportedly accepted $11,500 from Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway in 2017. Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA on Nov. 8, but a temporary restraining order allowed Wiseman to play until his case was resolved.

Wiseman dropped that lawsuit Thursday, according to Memphis. The school’s full statement read:

University of Memphis student-athlete James Wiseman has decided to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University. 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.

In order to move the matter forward, the University has declared James ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.

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.

Wiseman and his family reportedly accepted money from Hardaway in 2017. Wiseman was in the process of transferring to Memphis East High School at the time, and the money helped the family relocate. Hardaway coached Memphis East High School that season.

The following season, Hardaway was hired by Memphis — his alma mater. Wiseman was recruited to Memphis for the 2019 season.

While Hardaway’s payment to Wiseman’s family occurred before both men wound up at Memphis, Hardaway’s connections to the university caused the NCAA to consider Hardaway a booster. Hardaway donated $1 million to Memphis in 2008.

In three games this season, Wiseman has averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. He’s considered one of the top prospects in the 2020 NBA draft.

Wiseman cannot participate in any games with Memphis until the NCAA reinstates him, but is eligible to practice while he’s ineligible.


Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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