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Memphis Creates Athletic Compliance Committee

Brock Fritz

The University of Memphis athletic department has had a lot of unwanted interaction with the NCAA lately.

The university took steps Wednesday to avoid NCAA communication in the future, forming an ad hoc Athletics Committee to focus on the “importance of intercollege athletics to the University and on athletic compliance.”

The committee was formed on the heels of a fitful start to the 2019-2020 Memphis men’s basketball season. Five-star freshman James Wiseman is in the midst of a 12-game suspension for his family accepting money from current head coach Penny Hardaway in 2017, while Isaiah Stokes’ eligibility application was denied by the NCAA after he transferring from Florida to Memphis late this summer.

The university took a different approach when the NCAA originally announced Wiseman’s ineligibility prior to Memphis’ Nov. 8 game against Illinois State. A Shelby County judge issued a restraining order that allowed Wiseman to play that night.

The 7-foot-1 big man averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in three games prior to Memphis declaring him ineligible. Those three games were tacked on to Wiseman’s suspension, as his violation is typically worth a nine-game suspension. The Tigers have compiled a 7-1 record, while Wiseman is eligible to return Jan. 12 against South Florida.

According to WREG Memphis, the university already has a four-person compliance office that makes a combined $250,000 per year. WREG also reportedly spoke with sources inside the athletic department that said the group will act like an external oversight board.

The new committee is chaired by Alan B. Graf Jr., the FedEx CFO who has been the chairman of an independent U of M Board of Trustees since 2017. The committee also includes R. Brad Martin, who was the school’s interim president in 2014, and Cato Johnson. Additional members may be added in the future.

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