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Reports: Memphis, Hardaway facing serious NCAA violations

Syndication: The Commercial Appeal

Memphis Tigers Head Coach Penny Hardaway talks to the press after their 82-78 loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in their second round NCAA Tournament matchup on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. Jrca4048

Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The University of Memphis and men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway have been accused of serious violations of NCAA rules, including failing to cooperate with an investigation, two newspapers reported.

The Daily Memphian and The Commercial Appeal reported that they obtained copies of a notice of allegations from an investigation by the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

The newspapers also obtained a response from the university denying the allegations. The university said the notice “contains no specific facts, and it is the specific facts that are imperative for the resolution of this matter.”

The allegations come after Memphis lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last week.

Alleged infractions include four Level I and two Level II violations, according to an amended notice of allegations the university received in July 2021. Level I and Level II violations are considered the most serious NCAA infractions.

The school received seven total accusations, including alleged violations of NCAA clauses related to lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. Hardaway was involved in at least one Level I infraction and two Level II violations stemming from the NCAA’s investigation that ran from May 2019 to February 2021, the notice said.

Many details and allegations included in the documents have been redacted.

The alleged violations appear to coincide with the time former Tigers player and prized recruit James Wiseman spent at Memphis. Wiseman had received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017, when Hardaway was the coach at East High School in Memphis.

Although Hardaway wasn’t Memphis’ coach at the time of the payment, the NCAA ruled it wasn’t allowed because he was a booster for the program. The former NBA All-Star gave $1 million in 2008 to his alma mater for the university’s sports hall of fame.

Hardaway became the Memphis coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

Wiseman played the first game of the 2019-20 season before the NCAA ruled Wiseman ineligible. He played two more games after filing a restraining order against the NCAA.

On Nov. 20, the NCAA suspended Wiseman for 12 games and ordered him to repay $11,500 in the form of a donation to the charity of choice. Wiseman now plays for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Also, data from a computer hard drive belonging to a former assistant coach was not preserved, the notice said. The university’s response indicated the computer belonged to Mike Miller, a former NBA player.

The IARP’s Complex Case Unit alleges Memphis failed to cooperate with the investigation, including failing to report acts of noncompliance in a timely manner. Hardaway “failed to demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program,” the notice said.

“The Institution failed to timely produce requested and relevant documents,” the amended notice of allegations said. “Specifically, on August 26, 2020, the CCU submitted document requests to the Institution seeking various categories of documents including but not limited to communications and text messages.”

In its response, the university said “the facts do not demonstrate a lack of institutional control, a failure to monitor, a failure to cooperate or a lack of (redacted) responsibility.”

“UM has presented facts that show institutional control, ongoing and appropriate monitoring, cooperation, a culture of compliance, and head coach responsibility,” the school’s response letter stated.

The university declined comment in a statement obtained by the newspapers Saturday, saying the school “is not permitted to comment due to the ongoing IARP process.”

The Complex Case Unit also identified aggravating factors, including a history of Level I and Level II violations that could be considered when handing out penalties. The unit cited violations in 2009, 2005, 1989 and 1986.

Also, Memphis’ established history of self-reporting Level III violations will be considered. The school has reported 32 violations in the past three years.