Memphis coach Penny Hardaway has been suspended three games by the NCAA for recruiting violations and violating head-coach responsibility rules.
An infractions panel announced Wednesday that the violations are tied to two in-home visits in 2021 with a recruit from the high school class of 2023 who was 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 conducted 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.
“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.”
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.
“As was announced by the NCAA in December, the University of Memphis reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on institutional penalties relating to a violation that occurred in our men’s basketball program during the 2021-22 academic year. As was also indicated in December, one individual, now identified as Coach Hardaway, exercised his right to work directly with the NCAA on his portion of the case, which was finalized today,” the school said in a statement released shortly after the NCAA ruling.
“As we were navigating the IARP process at the time the violation was discovered, we felt it was in our best interest to work through the NCAA’s Negotiated Resolution process. We supported Coach Hardaway’s right to work directly with the NCAA on his portion of the case, and we strongly believe Coach Hardaway never intentionally committed a violation. The University of Memphis is committed to compliance. We will learn from this incident and be even more diligent in our education and monitoring. Now that the entirety of this case is finalized, we will move forward in support of Coach Hardaway and our men’s basketball program, as we do all our programs.”
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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.