NCAA suspends Memphis Coach Penny Hardaway for recruiting violations

NCAA suspends Memphis Coach Penny Hardaway for recruiting violations

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has suspended Memphis coach Penny Hardaway for three games due to recruiting violations and violating head-coach responsibility rules. The NCAA’s infractions panel made the announcement on Wednesday, stating that the violations are linked to the two in-home visits held in 2021 with a recruit from the high school class of 2023, referred to by the NCAA as a “highly rated men’s basketball prospect.”

In September of the recruit’s junior year of high school, a Memphis assistant coach carried out an in-home visit with the prospect. Two weeks later, Hardaway also held an in-home visit with the recruit. According to NCAA rules, coaches can only have in-person contact with high school juniors at the prospect’s school. The NCAA penalized Hardaway because of his involvement in the violation, as well as his failure to monitor his assistant coach’s violation and failure to notify the school’s compliance department before the visit.

The Division I Committee on Infractions panel classified the violations as Level II-mitigated, which resulted in a three-game suspension. Hardaway, a former Memphis and NBA star, previously told the NCAA he was unaware of the rule. The panel stated that “ignorance of the rules is not an excuse”.

Response from Memphis

In December, Memphis agreed to begin serving the NCAA’s punishment stemming from this case while Hardaway challenged the NCAA’s allegations, which were resolved with Wednesday’s announcement. The school released a statement after the NCAA ruling, stating that they supported Hardaway’s right to work directly with the NCAA on his portion of the case, and they strongly believe that Hardaway never intentionally committed a violation.

The University of Memphis is committed to compliance and will learn from this incident to be even more diligent in their education and monitoring. Memphis had previously been the subject of an 18-month investigation by the NCAA due to alleged violations involving James Wiseman and other recruits. That case was adjudicated through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process last fall, when the hearing panel concluded that Hardaway didn’t violate NCAA rules when he provided benefits to three prospective student-athletes because of his long-standing philanthropy in Memphis.

The NCAA’s decision to suspend Hardaway for three games highlights the need for head coaches to remain diligent in monitoring their staff and promoting compliance at all times. The panel emphasized that head coaches cannot delegate those responsibilities to compliance staff members and administrators.


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