James Wiseman has one more game before heading back to court with his attorneys as they take on the NCAA in a high-stakes battle to keep the 7-foot-1 freshman playing in what could be his only year with the Memphis Tigers, one that could prove costly for the university.
The nation’s top-rated recruit has been ruled likely ineligible by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits from Penny Hardaway — before the former NBA All-Star was hired as Memphis’ coach. But Wiseman has played two games under a temporary restraining order issued after his attorneys sued college sports’ governing body.
Wiseman has not said much, and after an 84-72 loss to No. 14 Oregon on Tuesday night, said repeatedly, “I can’t speak on it.”
The next step in this legal action comes Monday, two days after 13th-ranked Memphis hosts Alcorn State on Saturday. Wiseman’s attorneys will be in a Tennessee chancery court before the same judge who granted the temporary restraining order.
This time they’ll be asking for an injunction allowing Wiseman to keep playing.
It is unclear how this will end.
Wiseman, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds against No. 14 Oregon, could play the entire season as the case winds through the courts. There could be a settlement with the NCAA where Wiseman sits out a few games. Or when the dust settles, the NCAA could slap Memphis with violations, fines and sanctions for games Wiseman played in or even postseason bans.
The university is supporting his lawsuit even while named as a defendant.
Both Memphis’ President Dr. M. David Rudd and athletic director Laird Veatch have made clear Wiseman will keep playing despite the NCAA’s rare statement it believes the freshman is “likely ineligible.”
“The university chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are eligible to play,” the NCAA wrote on Twitter while Wiseman played his first game under a court order.
Don Jackson, an Alabama-based attorney who has represented other student-athletes in NCAA eligibility cases, said Tuesday he’s happy to see a university decide state laws are superior to NCAA regulations. Jackson believes student-athletes are entitled to due process.
“Candidly, I’m thrilled to see this university take this approach,” Jackson said. “It would be gratifying if other universities had the guts to do the same. They don’t.”