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Penny Hardaway will not be on the sideline for Memphis basketball’s first three games of the 2023/24 season. The NCAA announced the punishment in a statement on Wednesday morning.
Men’s basketball coaches committed recruiting violations when they participated in two impermissible in-home recruiting visits with a prospect during his junior year of high school. Because of his personal involvement in the violations and failure to monitor his staff, the men’s basketball head coach also violated head coach responsibility rules.— National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division-I Committee on Infractions (COI)
The COI determined that Hardaway’s recruiting infractions will be Level II in nature. As a result, the university will pay a $5,000 fine. The program will also serve an additional one-year probationary period on top of the ongoing probation, which stems from the IARP case surrounding James Wiseman.
The committee’s public infractions decision report on Wednesday has to do with the 2021/22 season. Specifically, it relates to two impermissible recruiting visits.
NCAA rule states that coaches are not allowed to visit a recruit in his or her home until April of his or her junior year of high school. The Tigers broke that rule.
A former Memphis assistant (who is not named in the report) visited a recruit at his home in Dallas. That was during September of his junior year in 2021. Hardaway visited the same recruit in October of 2021.
Any visits between a recruit and coach prior to April of his or her junior year must be held at the prospect’s school. Hardaway and the assistant met the recruit in his family’s living room.
That is not allowed. Memphis and Hardaway are being punished accordingly.
Penny Hardaway claims ignorance.
According to the COI’s report, Hardaway told members of the enforcement staff “that he believed he could visit any student-athlete at any time.” He later said that he would not have visited the recruit if he had known that it was not allowed. In Hardaway’s mind, it is that simple.
Hardaway also put the athletic department’s compliance software at fault. The 51-year-old “blamed the error, in part, on the fact that the prospect’s year was not accurately entered” into the system.
Memphis is standing by Hardaway. It says that it does not believe that he intentionally committed a violation.
The University of Memphis is committed to compliance. We will learn from this incident and be even more diligent in our education and monitoring. Now that the entirety of this case is finalized, we will move forward in support of Coach Hardaway and our men’s basketball program, as we do all our programs— Memphis’ statement, in part.
The NCAA clapped back at Hardaway and Memphis by saying ignorance isn’t an excuse.
The head coach’s inattentiveness to compliance — particularly at a time when his program was under scrutiny related to a different infractions case — resulted in careless violations. Head coaches must remain diligent in monitoring their staff and promoting compliance at all times and cannot delegate those responsibilities to compliance staff members and administrators— NCAA D-I Committee on Infractions
For a coach to be suspended for recruiting violations is not particularly rare. Especially in college basketball.
Hardaway will miss three games. Those three games, presumably, will not matter in the grand scheme of the season.
While Hardaway and Memphis’ punishment may sound daunting, it’s not.