James Wiseman of Memphis Can Return From Suspension in January

James Wiseman of Memphis Can Return From Suspension in January

The N.C.A.A. ruled on Wednesday that James Wiseman, the freshman basketball star for Memphis, could return to the court in mid-January, after he has served a 12-game suspension because Memphis Coach Penny Hardaway gave Wiseman’s family $11,500 in moving expenses when he was in high school.

Wiseman, who is expected to be one of the top picks in the N.B.A. draft next June, sat out a game last week against Alcorn State as the N.C.A.A. considered his case.

The additional 11 games of the suspension were to begin with Wednesday night’s matchup against Arkansas-Little Rock. Wiseman must also donate $11,500 to a charity of his choice.

The Memphis athletic department issued a statement promising to appeal the suspension immediately, “based on case precedent, the circumstances of this case and other mitigating factors.”

“We expect a more fair and equitable resolution,” the statement added, “and we will exhaust all avenues on James’s behalf.”

The N.C.A.A. originally declared Wiseman ineligible on Nov. 8, but he challenged the decision in court and received a temporary injunction, then withdrew the case last week before a judge could hear arguments. His lawyers said in a statement last week that they were withdrawing the suit because it had become an impediment to a “fair and equitable resolution with the N.C.A.A.”

Leslie Ballin, a lawyer for Wiseman, declined to comment on Wednesday, saying he had not had time to digest the N.C.A.A.’s decision.

The lawsuit, and the decision by Memphis to play Wiseman in three games during the injunction, increased the penalty, the N.C.A.A. said, though it did not specify how many games had been added to the suspension. The Memphis statement, however, said that Wiseman had been suspended nine games for the infraction and three to compensate for the games he played while ineligible.

Wiseman will be eligible to return on Jan. 12 at South Florida, for his team’s third conference game. Memphis (3-1), ranked 16th in The Associated Press Top 25 poll, is favored to win the American Athletic Conference.

On Wednesday evening, Wiseman posted a message on Twitter, saying: “God has never left me nor forsake me throughout this process… Trust God, Keep the Faith, Stay the Course.”

The family of Wiseman, a 7-foot-1 center, was given money by Hardaway to help the family relocate from Nashville to Memphis two years ago, so he could play for Memphis East High School, which Hardaway coached at the time.

The N.C.A.A. said the benefit was impermissible because Hardaway was considered a Memphis booster since he had made donations to the school, including $1 million to help build the Penny Hardaway Athletic Hall of Fame. Boosters may not provide financial assistance to prospective players, or their family or friends, based on their athletic ability.

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