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Opinion: The NCAA’s claims over James Wiseman pits Memphis against “Power 5” schools

I was in the Alamodome on April 7, 2008. I am likely in the blurred darkness behind the clip of Mario Chalmers hitting a 3-pointer over Derrick Rose they use every year to promote March Madness.

Needless to say, it was quiet on the way back home.

John Calipari leaving the team broke down the program over time. The punishment the NCAA handed down onto the University of Memphis completely missed the responsible party, as Derrick Rose got off scot free. There was no evidence the UofM knew anything about Rose’s SAT. 

Calipari got no punishment either despite being just as guilty as the university. He also went behind the university’s back while still under contract and sabotaged the incoming recruiting class.

We had a few good seasons under Josh Pastner, but he was too soft and not nearly as good of a coach as he was a recruiter.

As the recruits dwindled slowly, the Memphis Grizzlies heavily overshadowed what was once a great program.

Now with Penny Hardaway back at his alma mater, things seemed to have turned around. The Basketball and Football teams are both in the Top 25 ranked teams at the same time for the first time in program history.

With the No. 1 draft class, Penny Hardaway and company looked to have a fantastic season ahead of them.

This NCAA interference in the Tiger’s season feels like us being singled out.

Despite having the information about Penny’s donation to the UofM in advance, the NCAA failed to recognize the very public donation in 2008 as evidence of Hardaway being a booster until James Wiseman stepped on the court. As soon as his lights out performance over South Carolina State was complete, things changed.

Selective enforcement is another issue. Hardaway gave $11,500 the Wiseman’s mother helping with a move from Nashville to Memphis in 2017 before Penny was the UofM head coach. However, a similar situation that reached national news went uninvestigated by the NCAA.

Zion Williamson, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2019 NBA draft, had family members ask representatives of Louisville and Kansas for money, employment and housing for his entire family. Zion’s family ended up moving to Durham, North Carolina. The NCAA never investigated Duke despite leaked audio.

To me, the system seems to be geared to protect the rich and punish the poor. “Power 5” conference members get off scot free from many of these situations.

Personally, instead of equally enforcing the current rules I think the rules should be changed to fit the times. It is insane that these athletes can still be considered amateurs.

The NCAA was originally created as an organization whose goal was to protect players. Now they only seem to protect them from having peace of mind and any rewards for their abilities.

Even with recent politics surrounding allowing players to be paid by sponsors, it still does not reward them for coming to college at all.

It also ignores that most athletes would feel bad if their families were living without knowing where their next meal was coming from while the athlete lives the dream in college.

Some of these college teams may be able to compete a gainst professional counterparts. Who would win, the LSU Tigers college football team or the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals? Could the Memphis Tigers beat the New York Knicks? As professional teams get paid middling wages to lose most of their games, college players do incredible things in athletics, but fail to be recognized as what they are: Professional Athletes. The only thing they lack is the money that colleges cannot give to them, but still do behind the NCAA’s back.

The system is against Memphis. There are bigger schools and bigger cities to play in. A city in middle-America is fighting for recognition.

This is Memphis vs. Everybody.

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