MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The eyes of the nation are on Memphis as the fight between the NCAA and James Wiseman begins.
Wiseman has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA after his lawyers say he was deemed ineligible when his then high school coach Penny Hardaway paid $11,000 to move Wiseman’s family from Nashville to Memphis.
Tigers fans shouldn’t hold their collective breath for a speedy resolution in the eligibility of Wiseman.
Wiseman and his legal team currently have a temporary restraining order against the NCAA that will allow him to continue playing. However, what happens next is up in the air because this is unprecedented.
Memphis Coach Penny Hardaway says Wiseman will play, as the fight between the nation's top college basketball player and the NCAA begins.
Defense attorney Blake Ballin says the battle for Wiseman's eligibility is personal to the entire city of Memphis.
“The message we're sending the NCAA is, we don't bluff,” said Ballin.
With only minutes to spare before Friday's game, Wiseman and his legal team were granted a temporary restraining order against the NCAA's decision that Wiseman was ineligible.
According to Wiseman's attorneys and confirmed by the University, that decision stems from Penny Hardaway donating $1 million to the UofM in 2008, which made him a booster. So when Hardaway spent more than $11,000 to help Wiseman's family move to Memphis in 2017 to play for Hardaway's Memphis East High School team, that was an impermissible benefit.
“The general public has had enough with the NCAA and the way they’re enforcing these rules. And this is just another example, but this is a pretty egregious one because it’s based on two acts of kindness by our coach Penny Hardaway,” said Ballin.
The next step is somewhat unpredictable.
A hearing on the TRO is scheduled for Nov. 18, but that could be moved up.
The NCAA could also ask the lawsuit to be heard in federal court rather than in Shelby County.
“At the end of the day, we're right, they're not and it doesn't matter what playing field we're on,” said Ballin.
“History is not on Memphis' side,” said Gary Parrish, CBS Sports College Basketball Analyst.
Gary Parish, lead college basketball analyst for CBS Sports says Wiseman and the University of Memphis are risking a lot playing Wiseman and fighting the NCAA rather than following the normal route and appealing his eligibility.
“It is a role of the dice because this could ultimately not only cost James Wiseman's permanent eligibility, it could cost the University of Memphis a trip to the post season,” said Parrish.
We also spoke with Stadium College Basketball Analyst Jeff Goodman who says he think Wiseman will not be able to escape some punishment from the NCAA.
“It will be interesting to watch how this whole thing unfolds but if I'm a betting man, I'm betting on the NCAA on this I just am and I'm betting that it's somewhere in the vicinity of a nine-game suspension,” said Goodman.
Ballin and his team want Tigers fans to rest easy. They say they have this.