NCAA Finds Penny Hardaway Did Not Violate Rules, But Punishes Memphis Basketball

After a lengthy 18-month wait, the NCAA has finally concluded its investigation into Memphis basketball and head coach Penny Hardaway. While the former NBA star-turned coach was cleared of some violations, the Tigers were still put on probation for three years.

An Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) hearing panel found Memphis failed to monitor the education and activities of an athletics booster. Additionally, they found that Memphis provided impermissible extra benefits, according to ESPN.

The panel also concluded the Tigers’ program conducted impermissible recruiting activities with prospective student-athletes. And, Memphis was said to have failed to cooperate with the investigative process by delaying the production of requested documents.

Memphis basketball is now on probation through Sept. 26, 2025 and has been fined $5,000 plus 0.25% of their men’s basketball budget. This is a result of committing four Level II violations and five Level III violations.

The Tigers were not handed an NCAA Tournament ban.

PORTLAND, OREGON – MARCH 17: Head coach Penny Hardaway of the Memphis Tigers reacts as the Tigers defeat the Boise State Broncos 64-53 in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Memphis Was 22-11 Last Season

While it was inevitable that the NCAA was going to lay out some sort of punishment for Memphis, the biggest question was whether or not Hardaway was going to escape unscathed. Luckily for Tigers fans, he did, for the most part.

In November of 2019, before becoming the Tigers’ head coach, the university acknowledged that Hardaway provided $11,500 in moving expenses for five-star recruit James Wiseman. The money was paid to relocate Wiseman’s family from Nashville to Memphis back in 2017.

Hardaway coached Wiseman at Memphis East High School before Wiseman signed with the Tigers.

The NBA legend was considered a booster at the time due to the $1 million donation he gave the university in 2008. Hardaway’s donation was used to build a sports hall of fame.

“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 (including Wiseman) 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.”

Wiseman ended up playing just three games for the Tigers. He then declared for the NBA Draft as a true freshman.

Memphis, with Hardaway on the bench, will open its season against Vanderbilt on Nov. 7.

Written by Mark Harris

Leave a Reply