Memphis, Penny Hardaway avoid serious penalties in NCAA's James Wiseman probe

The Memphis men's basketball program and its coach, Penny Hardaway, have avoided serious penalties in the NCAA investigation into the recruitment and eligibility of James Wiseman.

In the report released on Tuesday, the NCAA's Independent Resolution Panel (IRP) hit Memphis with three years of probation and a $5,000 fine for several Level II and Level III NCAA violations. Harsher punishments could have included a postseason ban for the program or a suspension for Hardaway.

"The University of Memphis failed to monitor the education and activities of an athletics booster in its men’s basketball program, provided impermissible extra benefits, conducted impermissible recruiting activities, and failed to cooperate with investigative process," the report read.

The 18-month investigation mostly centered on James Wiseman, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, selected by the Golden State Warriors. He attended Memphis from 2019-20, but had ties to the school several years earlier through Hardaway. In 2017, Hardaway gave Wiseman's family $11,500 to help them move from Nashville to Memphis. While Hardaway wasn't the Memphis head coach at the time, he was a booster with close ties to the program.

Wiseman was suspended 12 games by the NCAA in 2019 for recruiting violations, which he appealed. The NCAA denied his appeal and ordered the Wiseman family to replay the $11,500 as a charitable donation. At that point, Wiseman withdrew from Memphis and focused on preparing for the draft.

The IAP determined that the money Hardaway gave the Wiseman family was not a recruiting violation, but was part of a pattern of Memphis not communicating with or educating their boosters (such as Hardaway) about proper NCAA conduct and reporting. The IAP also ruled that Memphis must vacate any wins involving Wiseman, who played in just three games with one win before his NCAA suspension.

Memphis' probation will end on Sept. 26, 2025.

CINCINNATI, OHIO - FEBRUARY 15: Head coach Penny Hardaway of the Memphis Tigers looks on in the second half against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena on February 15, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Memphis men's basketball and head coach Penny Hardaway have avoided serious penalties in the NCAA probe of James Wiseman's recruiting and eligibility. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)