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Dank News: Penny Hardaway gets away with NCAA Violations

Penny Hardaway is a sleazeball, a cheat, and he just got away with NCAA violations in a new ruling. As reported first by ESPN, Penny Hardaway had an Independent Accountability Resolution Process panel conclude that the Memphis Tigers basketball coach

“didn’t violate NCAA rules when he provided benefits to three prospective student-athletes because of his long-standing philanthropy in Memphis, according to a decision released on Tuesday.”

The panel came to this conclusion after investigating and determining that Hardaway had a history of philanthropy in the city of Memphis before he became a donor to the university in 2008 and before he took the head coaching job in 2018. They concluded further systemic issues within the Memphis Tigers program but did not end up concurring with NCAA opinion that Hardaway

failed to demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program and failed to monitor his staff, and accused the university of lack of institutional control.

What being an active member in his hometown community has to do with building up a program based on back-deals, recruiting violations, and all-around scumminess is beyond me.


Obviously, I do not agree with the panel’s determination as the logic is severely flawed. Hardaway’s philanthropic endeavors come clearly from his time within the Memphis basketball program during his college years and from being born and raised in the city. That is clearly established and we all understand that Penny loves him some Memphis, Tennessee. What I do not understand is how that fact somehow detracts from the possibility that he ran an irresponsible, unrestrained program that bartered for recruits, breaking NCAA rules.

Hardaway already has a dubious history with programs in our own state. He stole Emoni Bates away from a superior situation under Tom Izzo‘s wing and potentially ruined the basketball star’s future permanently. The child phenom from Ypsilanti has had a sordid career that Hardaway kickstarted by tempting the young basketball recruit to his program. Since then, Bates has already transferred back to the state of Michigan and had legal trouble this past summer.

I know the common refrains will be that Bates and his family made those choices and Hardaway simply tried to better his program. This however ignores the culpability that coaches have in influencing the decisions of young, impressionable men who will take coaches at their word. Hardaway’s Memphis has become eerily similar to that of a former Memphis coaching star, John Calipari.


Calipari left the Memphis program high and dry after NCAA violations came pouring down after a tumultuous Derrick Rose saga. Hardaway in turn has brought the scorn of the NCAA down on Memphis again as relayed in the ESPN piece about the IARP’s decision.

The school acknowledged in November 2019 that Hardaway, before he became the Tigers’ coach, had provided $11,500 in moving expenses for star center James Wiseman and his family to relocate from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. At the time, Hardaway was Wiseman’s coach on the Nike EYBL circuit and later coached him at Memphis East High School.

Hardaway, a former Memphis basketball star, was considered a booster by the NCAA due to a $1 million donation he gave the school in 2008 to build a sports hall of fame. The school said Wiseman was unaware of Hardaway’s payment to his family.

The NCAA ruled Wiseman ineligible, because it deemed his family had received improper benefits. Wiseman sued the NCAA, and a Shelby County judge issued a restraining order allowing him to play. After the judge’s ruling, the NCAA issued a statement saying, “The University of Memphis was notified that James Wiseman is likely ineligible. The university chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are eligible to play.”

The IARP said despite having knowledge of Wiseman’s ineligibility, Memphis officials allowed him to compete in a game on Nov. 5, 2019, “without informing the head coach until after the contest that [Wiseman] had been determined to be ineligible to play.”

Wiseman, who was the No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2019 class, averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in three games for the Tigers. He later dropped his lawsuit against the NCAA, and the school declared him ineligible and applied for his reinstatement. The NCAA later suspended him for 12 games and upheld his punishment on appeal.

This guy is plain dirty, bad news. His program has shone already cracks in its foundation and the way their coach has carried himself with these backdoor deals to lure recruits to his school have already molded how the program will go. A team with top recruiting classes and stars filtering in and out has accomplished a single, solitary achievement. Hardaway has earned an NIT championship as his sole accomplishment thus far helming the Tigers. What is all of this worth if you won’t at least cheat as successfully as Calipari or Bruce Pearl? An NIT chip and a single NCAA Tournament appearance hardly seems worth the trouble.

Finally, I’ll end this ranting and raving with the actual ruling by the board, regarding Hardaway’s alleged cheating.

“Based on the case record and information developed at the hearing, the hearing panel found that the benefits provided by the head coach to the three prospective student-athletes were not recruiting inducements. According to the hearing panel, it was established that the head coach had a long-standing philanthropic commitment, particularly to youth in the economically disadvantaged Memphis community, even prior to becoming an athletics booster. The hearing panel determined that the benefits provided by the head coach were generally available to all prospective students of Memphis, not only student-athletes, and, therefore, were permissible.”

How this independent panel made the determination that those benefits were not recruiting inducements is beyond me. They really must be stupid enough to fall for Penny Hardaway’s con just like Emoni Bates’ parents and all the other recruits fooled into believing he’s anything other than a glorified car saleseman on a basketball court.

I wish the best of luck to the runaway cheat Penny Hardaway and his Memphis Tigers program, but I know all that will equal to is a First Round exit to #8 seed St. Joseph’s and another round of NCAA violations.


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Dylan Bair
Dylan Bair
Writer of all things college sports including, but not limited to, Michigan State football and basketball, college football in every facet, and hard opinions about the Big Ten and college sports in general. Also, an avid soccer and NBA fan with a deep knowledge-base that hopefully translates well to all of the fans reading. Thanks for the time and effort in reading my work! It means a lot to get the support for the thing I love most.

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