James Wiseman's high school eligibility case: Here's what we know

Photo: Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal

James Wiseman's high school eligibility case: Here's what we know

Boys Basketball

James Wiseman's high school eligibility case: Here's what we know


James Wiseman’s ongoing legal battle with the NCAA isn’t the only controversy over the heralded Memphis freshman center’s eligibility. There are concerns over his status during his junior year at East High as well.

An Oct. 3 ruling from Chancellor Jim Kyle stated that the TSSAA “correctly applied” it’s coaching link rule when it declared Wiseman and teammate Ryan Boyce were ineligible for the 2017-18 season.

Here’s what we know about Wiseman’s battle with TSSAA and how it differs from his battle with the NCAA.

It’s about Team Penny 

Wiseman’s case against the TSSAA is about his involvement with Team Penny, an AAU program that was affiliated with Penny Hardaway.

This is different from Wiseman’s case against the NCAA, which is about an “impermissible benefit” of $11,500 from Hardaway, now the Tigers coach, who was deemed a University of Memphis booster.

Because Wiseman and teammate Ryan Boyce played for Team Penny over the summer before they transferred to East, the TSSAA ruled them ineligible due to a violation of the state’s “prior link” coaching rule, which states the following:

“If a student with an athletic record transfers to a new school where an “athletic coaching link” existed in the past 12 months, that student is ineligible for 12 months past their first date of enrollment at the new school at all levels in the specific sports where a linkage was present.”

The rule goes on to state that a coaching link may include:

1. Attendance at an individual camp (and then transferring);

2. Playing on non-school (independent) teams (and then transferring to that coach’s school)

3. Transferring into a school where a former coach has been hired.

4. Transferring to a school where a former or current personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach is employed.

Shelby County Schools sued TSSAA and got an injunction 

East appealed the decision and TSSAA denied the appeal. That’s when Shelby County Schools stepped in and sued the TSSAA. Kyle, the same judge from the Oct. 3 ruling, issued a temporary restraining order that allowed Wiseman and Boyce to play out the season.

The pair helped East go 31-3 and beat Whitehaven to claim East’s third consecutive Class AAA state title.

It’s not over yet

Shelby County Schools has motioned for an appeal of Kyle’s ruling, arguing that Hardaway was a sponsor of Team Penny, not a coach, and that the word “sponsor” is nowhere to be found within the rule.

Visit the Memphis Commercial Appeal for continued up-to-date coverage on the James Wiseman eligibility case as it progresses.


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