Memphis coach Penny Hardaway hit with 3-game NCAA suspension for recruiting violations

Memphis men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway has been suspended for the first three games of the 2023-24 season due to recruiting violations, the NCAA announced Wednesday.

According to the NCAA, Memphis coaches made two unauthorized home recruiting visits with a prospect in 2021 while the prospect was a junior in high school. The first visit involved an assistant from Memphis. The second was directed by Hardaway himself. NCAA rules allow coaches to have face-to-face contact with rookies during their junior year, but it must take place at the prospect’s school. Home visits are not permitted for college students.

Due to Hardaway’s “personal involvement in the violations and his failure to monitor his staff,” Hardaway violated NCAA head coach liability rules, the NCAA Violations Committee has determined.

According to the Violations Committee report, Hardaway asserted “he should not be held responsible for the violations because he was unaware that NCAA rules prohibited in-person home visits and that the Memphis Compliance Office failed to properly train its newly promoted recruiting director.”

Memphis and the NCAA previously reached a negotiated resolution to a violation case involving James Wiseman in December. The recruiting violations were uncovered during the Wiseman case, but Hardaway disputed the allegations.

The NCAA imposed an additional year of probation that was previously given to the program. The probationary period now extends until September 26, 2026.

Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway waves to her team as they play against Florida Atlantic in the first half of a first-round college basketball game at the NCAA Men's Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, March 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway waves to her team as they play against Florida Atlantic in the first half of a college basketball first round game at the NCAA Men’s Tournament in Columbus , Ohio, Friday, March 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

No additional penalties for the program will be imposed other than suspension of Hardaway. While suspended, Hardaway may not attend his team’s games or have any contact or communication with players or coaches.

“Ignorance of the rules is no excuse,” the NCAA panel said in its decision. “The head coach’s inattention to compliance – particularly at a time when his program was under scrutiny related to a different case of infraction – resulted in reckless violations.”

In a statement, Memphis Athletics said it believed Hardaway “never intentionally committed a violation.”

“We supported Coach Hardaway’s right to work directly with the NCAA on its part of the case, and we strongly believe that Coach Hardaway never intentionally committed a violation,” the statement from Memphis read. “The University of Memphis is committed to complying with the law. We will learn from this incident and be even more diligent in our education and oversight. Now that this entire case is finalized, we will move forward. forward to support Coach Hardaway and our men’s basketball program.”

Hardaway, a former NBA star who played collegiate at Memphis, is entering his sixth season as head coach at his alma mater. The Tigers are coming off a 26-9 record and the 2023 American Athletic Conference Tournament title. Memphis has reached the last two NCAA Tournaments. In 2022, the Tigers fell in the round of 32. Last year they lost a heartbreak to Florida Atlantic in the first round. FAU ended up advancing to the Final Four.

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