NCAA suspends Penny Hardaway for three games

The NCAA has released their findings from an investigation into the Memphis men’s basketball program, and recruiting violations that occurred. As a result, Memphis head basketball coach Penny Hardaway has been suspended for the first three games of the 2023-24 season. Here is the press release from the NCAA:

Memphis men’s basketball coaches committed recruiting violations when they participated in two impermissible in-home recruiting visits with a prospect during his junior year of high school, according to a decision released by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. Because of his personal involvement in the violations and failure to monitor his staff, the men’s basketball head coach also violated head coach responsibility rules.

In December, the school reached an agreement with the enforcement staff about the violations and penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions publicly acknowledged the infractions case so the school could immediately begin serving penalties while awaiting the committee’s final decision. 

The violations in this case centered around the recruitment of one highly rated men’s basketball prospect. First, in September of the prospect’s junior year of high school, a Memphis men’s basketball assistant coach traveled to his home in another state and visited with him and his family. Two weeks later, the Memphis men’s basketball head coach did the same. NCAA rules, as adopted by members, require any in-person contacts with recruits during the fall months of their junior year of high school to be made at the prospects’ schools, not in their homes. As a result, these visits violated recruiting rules.

Due to his personal involvement in the violations, failure to monitor his staff’s violations, and his failure to consult with the Memphis compliance department before making an in-home visit, the head coach also violated head coach responsibility rules.

“Ignorance of the rules is not an excuse,” the panel said in its decision. “The head coach’s inattentiveness to compliance — particularly at a time when his program was under scrutiny related to a different infractions case — resulted in careless violations. Head coaches must remain diligent in monitoring their staff and promoting compliance at all times and cannot delegate those responsibilities to compliance staff members and administrators.”

The panel classified the case as Level II-mitigated for the head coach. In addition to the penalties agreed to by the school in December, the committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe a suspension from the first three games of the 2023-24 men’s basketball regular season for the head coach (10% of the season). 

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Norman Bay, attorney in private practice; Cassandra Kirk, chief magistrate judge in Atlanta; Gary Miller, president of Akron and chief hearing officer for the panel; Joe Novak, former football head coach at Northern Illinois University; and Dave Roberts, special advisor to Southern California. 

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