NCAA’s Ruling Against Star Athletes Stirs Up Legal Drama at Ohio State and Memphis

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The NCAA made waves last Friday when it announced Ohio State Defensive End Chase Young and Memphis Center James Wiseman were ineligible for amateur competition at the collegiate level. The position taken by the governing body of college athletics is interesting due to the fact they recently passed a vote allowing amateur players to monetize their likeness, thus allowing college athletes to be paid. Both players accepted monetary benefits in order to deal with the difficult financial rigors of this thing we call “life”, and both are potential number one overall picks in the upcoming drafts of their respective sports. 

The Ohio State defender Young is the most dominant player in college football this year. With 13.5 sacks so far this season, his standout performance has drawn the attention of NFL scouts, led his team to a number one ranking by the College Football Playoff committee, and put him in consideration for the Heisman Trophy. 

Memphis’ freshman Center Wiseman was the number one rated recruit in the nation, prior to signing with Penny Hardaway’s Tigers. The long, athletic big-man is projected to be a top pick by NBA scouts. However, to this point his career has been filled with controversy due to eligibility concerns related to his movement between schools and cities prior to landing in college.

Young accepted money last season to fly his girlfriend to Pasadena, California. Ohio State was playing in the Rose Bowl, and the edge rusher accepted money from a “close family friend” and states the money has since been paid back. Nevertheless, the details of the situation are currently being investigated by the NCAA and sources are suggesting he may miss at least four games when a suspension is finally handed down. Representatives for the Buckeyes are planning to appeal the forthcoming decision.

Wiseman moved from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017 to play for Hardaway, who at the time coached the youngster in AAU and eventually at East High School following the recruit’s transfer from Ensworth. The coach provided $11,500 in assistance during the family’s move prior to East’s third-straight state championship. Recent findings have led Hardaway to be classified as a “booster” by the NCAA, and Wiseman has since filed a lawsuit against the governing body to contest his playing status. Despite being ruled ineligible, he played for the Tigers on Friday during their victory over UIC.

On Saturday, Young sat out Ohio State’s 73-14 win over Big Ten “doormat” Maryland. Despite missing the 6-foot-5 end, the Buckeyes’ defense managed to hold the Terrapins to only 139 yards of total offense during the blowout victory. With upcoming games against Rutgers, Penn State, and rival Michigan, the team is hopeful the matter is wrapped up sooner than later. A decision in the matter is expected sometime this week. The length of the ban may reflect the volume of the loan, which at this point is unknown.

“We went through a little adversity this week,” Day said according to ESPN. “Adversity reveals character, and our character was at the forefront of this game. I felt we came out and showed we’re made of something special here.”

The Buckeyes will continue their pursuit of a National Championship whether-or-not Young returns to action, as his future with the program is uncertain. At this point, he personally has nothing to gain by continuing to take the field for the university. By continuing to play, he would only stand to lose because of the risks associated with injury and the potential decline of his draft stock. As of now, he is the number one player on ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr’s Big Board.

NBA superstar LeBron James, an Ohio native, and Buckeyes admirer took to Twitter Saturday afternoon and spoke out against the decision. The noted advocate for college athletics “pay for play” movement said, “The fact Chase Young even had to borrow money from a family member just so his girlfriend could come see him play in one of the biggest games of his life (Rose Bowl) should tell you all you need to know. And since y’all always wanna know more he paid it back to his family member”.

Wiseman was ruled ineligible Friday afternoon and found himself in court with Memphis’ legal team filing a restraining order against the NCAA’s decision just an hour or so before the tipoff of the UIC game. 

Memphis defied the NCAA by playing Wiseman. Midway through the game, the organization issued a statement saying, “The University of Memphis was notified that James Wiseman is likely ineligible. The university chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are eligible to play”.

Hardaway is considered a booster due to the fact he donated the university a reported $1 Million back in 2008. Wiseman’s eligibility is a concern because Hardaway financed the player’s move to town prior to being named Memphis’ Head Coach in March 2018. Although the player and coach’s relationship dates back a few years, it would be against NCAA by-laws for the coach to provide the assistance and surely jeopardizes Wiseman’s amateur status. Not only that, but in the event Wiseman is ruled ineligible, the Tigers could face a postseason ban, scholarship reductions, and be forced to forfeit any victories the freshman plays in while the legal matter plays out (Does anyone remember Reggie Bush and USC?).

Hardaway says Wiseman “will continue to play”, according to ESPN. The hearing for Wiseman’s suit against the NCAA is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. local time in Memphis, Tennessee. 

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