November 30, 2010

NCAA rules pertinent to Kanter's case

Here are the pertinent NCAA regulations that have been a primary consideration in Enes Kanter's eligibility case. Kanter's appeal to the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee is expected to be heard this week.

12.02.4 Professional Athletics Team. A professional team is any organized team that: (a) Provides any of its players more than actual and necessary expenses for participation on the team, except as otherwise permitted by NCAA legislation. Actual and necessary expenses are limited to the following, provided the value of these items is commensurate with the fair market value in the locality of the player(s) and is not excessive in nature: (Revised: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02) 
(1) Meals directly tied to competition and practice held in preparation for such competition;
(2) Lodging directly tied to competition and practice held in preparation for such competition;
(3) Apparel, equipment and supplies;
(4) Coaching and instruction;
(5) Health/medical insurance;
(6) Transportation (expenses to and from practice competition, cost of transportation from home to training/practice site at the beginning of the season and from training/practice site to home at the end ofseason);
(7) Medical treatment and physical therapy;
(8) Facility usage; (Revised: 4/24/03) 
(9) Entry fees; and (Revised: 4/24/03) 
(10) Other reasonable expenses; or (Adopted: 4/24/03, Revised: 10/28/04) 
(b) Declares itself to be professional (see Bylaw (Revised: 8/8/02) Educational Expenses or Services—Prior to Collegiate Enrollment. A prospective student-athlete may receive educational expenses or services (e.g., tuition, fees, room and board, books, tutoring, standardized test preparatory classes) prior to collegiate enrollment from any individual or entity other than an agent, professional sports team/organization, member institution or a representative of an institution’s athletics interests, provided the payment for such expenses or services is disbursed directly to the individual, organization or educational institution (e.g., high school, preparatory school) providing the educational expense or service.(Adopted: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02, Revised: 1/14/08) Exception—Competition Before Initial Full-Time Collegiate Enrollment—Sports Other Than Men’s Ice Hockey and Skiing. In sports other than men’s ice hockey and skiing, before initial full-time collegiate enrollment, an individual may compete on a professional team (per Bylaw 12.02.4), provided he or she does not receive more than actual and necessary expenses to participate on the team.(Adopted: 4/29/10 effective 8/1/10; applicable to student-athletes who initially enroll full time in a collegiate institution on or after 8/1/10) 

Associate Publisher
Posted Nov 28, 2010

November 28, 2010

Is The NCAA Taking On American Soldiers?

The media and fans have criticized the NCAA for years for the sheer ridiculousness of some of its rules and how it applies those rules. While everyone is aware of the NCAA’s decisions on players reportedly receiving payments before school like Enes Kanter orJosh Selby, and while in school like O.J. Mayo or Reggie Bush, there are also grey areas such as when recruits come as part of a package deal like that in which Michael Beasley was reportedly involved. Much has been made of the NCAA’s perceived uneven application of those rules and the glacial pace at which they have enforced them. The latest application of those rules that led Duquesne‘s men’s basketball program to report itself to the NCAA, however, should make even the NCAA’s staunchest defender cringe. 

So what exactly did Duquesne do that led it to turn itself into the NCAA? Donate shoes to American soldiers, according to Duquesne. Ok, maybe it is a little more complex than that. Technically, they donated shoes to a foundation run by Bob Starkman, the coach at Broward Community College, who then sent them to US troops in Afghanistan. So even though the shoes were sent to the US troops because they were sent to Starkman, a junior college coach, they were interpreted as a gift to Starkman, which would be a secondary NCAA violation. Here is the official statement from Duquesne via athletic director Greg Amodio: 

In an attempt to support our troops in Afghanistan through a program conducted by Bob Starkmann [sic], head basketball coach at Broward CC, the Duquesne University men’s basketball staff inadvertently violated an NCAA bylaw that prevents Division I institutions from sending athletic apparel/equipment directly to a junior-college coaching staff. Therefore, the Duquesne University athletic department has submitted a letter to the NCAA outlining the circumstances associated with this secondary violation.

Seems like a straightforward case of the NCAA being ridiculously anal, right? It turns out the case might not be that simple.

Enter the spurned student-manager. According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a former student-manager who was involved in the shipment of those shoes claims the shipment may not have been intended for American soldiers. According to the student-manager — who left the team earlier this month — head coach Ron Everhart instructed him to send the following items to Starkman: 
  • 2 pairs of size-15 shoes
  • 4 pairs of size-14 shoes
  • 2 pairs of size-13 shoes
  • 3 pairs of size-12 shoes
  • 2 pairs of size-11 shoes
  • 2 pairs of size-10 shoes
  • Coaches’ shirts
Later, another text message reportedly for Starkman was forwarded to the student-manager stating: “size 10 shoes and some coaches shirts XXL size 14 and coaches cargo shorts size 40 thks bob.” According to the student-manager, the team couldn’t fulfill those requests with their current inventory, so he requested more shoes from Adidas, but did not ask for more coaches’ shirts because he felt that he could not get them. When the shoes arrived, he shipped them to Starkman, paying $358.34 out-of-pocket per request of Everhart. When he went to Everhart for reimbursement he reported that he was sent to a string of people before going to Rick Christensen, the associate athletic director for NCAA compliance, who wanted to have a meeting the next day. At that meeting on November 8th, Christensen recorded their conversation, but stated that the basketball program had not been made aware of the discussion. On November 12th Christensen stated he would inform the basketball coaching staff of their discussion. When the student manager returned to basketball practice after the weekend, he claimed that he met with a cold reception, and left the team after receiving a check from Everhart and being advised by Christensen that it would be best to leave the team, which the student manager did. Nobody at Duquesne would respond to questions, but when the Post-Gazette reached Starkman he stated that the shoes were not intended for his players as they wear Nike, not Adidas. Starkman’s Facebook page for the cause, however, has pictures that show some of his players wearing Adidas shoes as does the team’s official page. It is possible that the players were just absent-minded or were trying to make a statement, although I doubt any of them had a situation like Marcus Jordan did at UCF. To be fair, it should be noted that there are pictures of the soldiers wearing Broward College apparel, which shows this isn’t a pure scam on Starkman’s part.

So where does this leave us? While it is clear that the NCAA’s rule could be viewed as unreasonable if one is to believe the story released by Duquesne, the story offered by the student-manager also shows us how programs could use loopholes to direct gifts to certain individuals with the intent of driving players to those programs. It is likely that we will never know what really happened, but this case illustrates some of the inherent difficulties in trusting what schools say about their self-reported violations.

November 24, 2010

UK's Kanter appeal first week of December

LAHAINA, Hawaii — Kentucky expects to make its appeal to the NCAA to have Enes Kanter's eligibility restored the first week of December.

"We are working with the NCAA and believe the appeal could take place the first week of December," UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said. "It is our understanding that we could receive a decision a couple of days after that."

The freshman big man, who played three seasons for a professional team in his native Turkey, was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA earlier this month because he received $33,033 more than the necessary expenses permitted by the NCAA.

UK's final appeal in the initial-eligibility process will be heard by the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee.

No hard feelings

With UK playing Washington on Tuesday in the EA Sports Maui Invitational semifinals, a subplot about recruiting hovered over the game.

Kanter and Terrence Jones both committed to Washington before changing their minds and signing with UK.

Was there bad blood between the teams, a reporter asked Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar after his Huskies blitzed Virginia 106-63 Monday.

"If I really wanted to do the media a favor, I could make up some wild story: 'We hate Kentucky,'" Romar said. "Sorry, that's not the case. ... We respect the Kentucky program and the job they do."

'Sixth starter'

Calipari lauded how hard freshman Doron Lamb played against Oklahoma on Monday.

"Competing at a very high level," the UK coach said. "Basically, we have six starters."

Of course, all players can improve, including Lamb, and fellow freshman guard Brandon Knight. Calipari said he'd like to see more decisiveness on drives to the basket.

"When you get to the foul line, you have to start making decisions," he said. "If you don't, you start losing the ball."

Fans saluted

Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo, whose team lost to UConn in the other semifinal, saluted his fans in Maui.

"We had a lot of fans here," he said after Monday night's game before adding, "Not Kentucky-ish."

In an attendance competition, Michigan State would be "a distant second," Izzo said.
By Jerry Tipton

November 23, 2010

Kentucky Basketball: Examining The Kanter Decision

e haven't talked much about the ruling on Enes Kanter's college eligibility here at A Sea of Blue, but given that it has been a major topic of conversation, and will continue to be until the final i's are dotted and t's crossed, I thought we'd take a look at the situation and handicap UK and Kanter's chances of success on appeal.

At first blush, winning an appeal like this seems unlikely. The NCAA carefully weighed the relevant factors and rendered a decision that looks,prima facia, to be correct. According to competent reporting, at issue was some $33,000 in compensation that Fenerbahçe Ülker paid to Kanter over a 3-year period when he played for their junior and senior teams.

Let's look at the NCAA rule and see how it was applied. Rule controls the beginning (Source- NCAA 2010-11 Division I Manual):

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Competition with Professionals. An individual shall not be eligible for intercollegiate athletics in a sport if the individual ever competed on a professional team (per Bylaw 12.02.4) in that sport.However, an individual may compete on a tennis, golf, two-person sand volleyball or two-person synchronized diving team with persons who are competing for cash or a comparable prize, provided the individual does not receive payment of any kind for such participation. (Revised: 1/9/96 effective 8/1/96, 1/14/97, 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02)

[Emphasis mine



The NCAA presumes Kanter ineligible, because he has clearly played for a professional team as defined in, which is unquoted here due to it's length, but basically defines a professional team as a team that pays any of its athletes for athletic performance beyond "necessary and actual expenses", which the rule goes on to define.

But the NCAA does provide this exception the the above rule, which was the basis for Kanter's hope to achieve amateur status:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Exception—Competition Before Initial Full-Time Collegiate Enrollment—Sports Other Than Men’s Ice Hockey and Skiing. In sports other than men’s ice hockey and skiing, before initial full-time collegiate enrollment, an individual may compete on a professional team (per Bylaw 12.02.4), provided he or she does not receive more than actual and necessary expenses to participate on the team. (Adopted: 4/29/10 effective 8/1/10; applicable to student-athletes who initially enroll full time in a collegiate institution on or after 8/1/10


Fenerbahçe Ülker is a Turkish Euroleague team, which places them within the scope of this exception. Unfortunately, the NCAA decided that the additional $33,000 paid to the Kanter family (some of which has been held in a separate bank account and the rest of which were paid by the Kanter family for educational expenses) were determined to be in excess of "actual and necessary expenses." This does not really seem to be in dispute by either Kanter, his family, or Kentucky.

The Kanters and UK claim that $20,000 of the $33k were used for educational expenses. However, the rule on educational expenses pre-college is:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Educational Expenses or Services—Prior to Collegiate Enrollment. A prospective student-athlete may receive educational expenses or services (e.g., tuition, fees, room and board, books, tutoring, standardized test preparatory classes) prior to collegiate enrollment from any individual or entity other than an agent, professional sports team/organization, member institution or a representative of an institution’s athletics interests, provided the payment for such expenses or services is disbursed directly to the individual, organization or educational institution (e.g., high school, preparatory school) providing the educational expense or service. (Adopted: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02, Revised: 1/14/08)

[Emphasis mine]


Fenerbahçe Ülker paid the money to the Kanters, not to the educational provider as required by NCAA rule, so a claim that the $20k should not count in the excess calculation is clearly wrong, at least as the rules are written. So we are still talking about $33k, not $13k. That's where we stand today.

When you look at this all on its face, you wonder why UK would even bother with the appeal. After all, there is really no dispute that Kanter does not qualify under the exception, and the amount of money we are talking about here is not just a couple of thousand dollars. Kanter derived significant financial benefits from Fenerbahçe Ülker that are impermissible under the NCAA's rules of amateurism. That is a fact. As a matter of rule, the NCAA's decision is beyond rational dispute.

But as we all know, this is not just about the rules. If it were, Renardo Sidney would not now be an amateur. The rules provide the background in a kind of legal format, but there is the other side of that coin, the concept of fairness and equanimity. The strict application of law is not always the last word in our legal system, and it is the same way when it comes to NCAA eligibility.

The Sidney case would seem to be the most similar recent case for comparison. Sidney was suspended for the entire 2009-10 season for lying to the NCAA about the impermissible benefits he received. Additionally, the $11,800 in impermissible benefits themselves put him on the wrong side of this rule:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Preferential Treatment, Benefits or Services. Preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation. For violations of this bylaw in which the value of the benefit is $100 or less, the eligibility of the individual shall not be affected, conditioned on the individual repaying the value of the benefit to a charity of his or her choice. The individual, however, shall remain ineligible from the time the institution has knowledge of the receipt of the benefit until the individual repays the benefit. If the violation involves institutional responsibility, it remains an institutional violation per Constitution 2.8.1, and documentation of the individual’s repayment shall be forwarded to the enforcement staff. (Revised: 1/11/94, 1/14/08)


It doesn't require a mental Leviathan to see that both Sidney and Kanter were effectively professionals by rule -- Kanter for not refusing $33k in extra benefits (no matter what you think about how they were used), and Sidney for accepting almost $12k in extra benefits. But one may wonder why Kanter was declared permanently ineligible and Sidney, despite unethical conduct as well as being an NCAA-rule professional, was returned to amateur status with some game penalties.

This is a fair question, and one that the NCAA has yet to address. They claim that every situation is different, and based on their actions, that is so. But it does seem passing strange that no consideration of allowing Kanter to repay his professional gains, sit out 30% of the season (the current punishment for paid-back impermissible benefits in excess of $1001 and up), and become eligible after that as they did with Sidney.

My take is that the NCAA is trying to put on a very strict face when it comes to amateurism these days. Under new leadership, the NCAA seems to be trending toward less leniency, and the Kanter case was an easy one to get tough on, since Kanter is in no real danger of being denied either an education or professional success by being declared a professional due to his family's wealth and his own skill. In other words, it was circumstantial ethics on the part of the NCAA to professionalize Kanter -- they get to show the world how serious they are about amateurism issues with absolutely no chance of harming the actual future of the young man.

As a bonus, the NCAA gets to look like they are sticking it in the eye of an institution that has been a serial rules violator over the years, and also appear to get in a poke in at a coach who is unreasonably but ubiquitously seen as an NCAA cheater. There is no downside to the NCAA , even if it is apparently inconsistent with recent prior rulings. The amount of money here just made the ruling easier, not any more correct in terms of prior precedent, and the NCAA figures rightly that they are universally seen as inconsistent anyway, so why not use it to their benefit for once?

In the end, the NCAA has merely taken this opportunity to make itself look good to the public. Sports commentators like Mike DeCoucy, among others, have criticized the NCAA's stance on Kanter, and rightly so, but crying wolf about NCAA inconsistency simply draws a shrug from anyone who's ox is not being gored by their decision.

So what are Kanter's chances of a successful appeal? Well, I suppose that pretty much depends on who is on the panel issuing the ruling. The NCAA has been anything but consistent on appeals, just as on initial eligibility rulings. UK's best chance would be to appear to the apparent hard line taken by the initial panel, especially in light of the Sidney case. Kanter hasn't lied to anybody, the Kanters made a good faith, if ultimately futile effort, to segregate any benefits from young Enes' use and has offered to pay back the entire sum, something the NCAA had to force the Sidneys to do after they repeatedly lied to them, and after young Sidney himself tried to hide the money, and dissembled about it to the NCAA's face.

Taken that way, Kanter looks unfairly singled out, primarily due to his family's economic circumstances. Will the appeal's panel agree? I'm not betting on it, but the argument definitely has force.

November 20, 2010

Explain this: Millionaire Parker can play, but Kanter can't?

The NCAA didn't misapply its rules last week when it made Kentucky freshman Enes Kanter permanently ineligible. The fact is, Kanter made some money in Turkey. It's instructive to note that he used it for education expenses, not to buy a house or a car, but money is money. A pro's a pro.

The NCAA followed its rulebook. I have no problem with the NCAA's interpretation of its rules.

I have a problem with the rules themselves.
Maybe you're calling me a John Calipari shill, so let me say this: Biggest difference between me and some of the clowns who pass themselves off as "unbiased" media today is that, unlike them, I tell you my biases. Right up front. I do like John Calipari -- but this story, and this NCAA rule, transcends that bias.

Plus, I'm right.

If this were a game of poker -- me vs. the NCAA rulebook -- I'd win. It happens in about 14 seconds, so pay attention, because I'm going to slam down my royal straight flush. Here you go:

Kyle Parker.

He's a professional athlete -- a millionaire -- who signed a $1.4 million pro contract with the Colorado Rockies two weeks before the 2010 college football season. He's also the starting quarterback for Clemson.

Sometimes, a pro isn't a pro.

Which is why I'm confused. Not angry. Not steaming mad at the NCAA for its treatment of poor Enes Kanter or John Calipari or the Kentucky basketball program. All three will survive. Kentucky has the best freshman class in the country, with or without Kanter, and Calipari makes winning look easy because, for him, it is. He's a natural in college, a force of nature, a recruiting monster who is respected by the best coaches in the business -- Tom Izzo and Mark Few, to name two -- for his X's and O's.

As for Kanter, even if he isn't as good as his hype -- I'm hearing he'd be a fine college player, but he isn't close to being a 2011 NBA lottery pick -- he'll make a small fortune somewhere, whether in Europe or eventually in the NBA. When he learned last week that he wouldn't be able to play for Kentucky, Kanter wept like the man-sized boy that he is. That's sad stuff. But in the long run, he'll be just fine. As will Calipari and Kentucky.

In the meantime, though, what's with the NCAA's schizophrenic rulebook?

How are professional baseball players -- pro athletes -- allowed to play football in droves after their baseball careers hit the skids? Those are two different sports, and I'm aware of that, so if you're going to e-mail me that I'm comparing apples to oranges, save it. The NCAA clearly has drawn a distinction between a pro in one sport and an amateur in another, but to me that's nonsensical gobbledygook. A pro is a pro is a pro.

When Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy for Florida State in 2000, he was more of a pro than Reggie Bush was five years later at Southern California. Weinke was 28 years old, for god's sake. He had earned more than half a million dollars as a minor-league baseball player and had lived the life of a full-time professional athlete for six years before giving college a try. And that was fine with the NCAA.

It was also fine that Josh Booty was practically a multi-millionaire pro athlete -- he signed with the Florida Marlins for $1.6 million in 1994, then spent five seasons as ballplayer, including parts of three seasons in the major leagues -- when he became the quarterback at LSU in 1999.

Quincy Carter signed for $425,000 with the Cubs in 1996, then played football for Georgia. John Lynch signed for $103,000 with the Marlins in 1992, in the middle of his college football career at Stanford, and stayed in school. In the early 1990s Scotty Burrell was a UConn basketball player in the fall and a Toronto Blue Jays minor-leaguer in the summer. All of that was fine with the NCAA.

It's fine with me, too. My point here is not to argue that Kyle Parker should sit Saturday when Clemson plays Wake Forest. Parker is a millionaire professional athlete in one sport, but an amateur in another? Fine by me. My beef isn't with Parker now, or with the pro athletes who came before him, guys like Weinke, Carter, Burrell or Booty.

My beef is with the NCAA, which did with Kanter what it does too often -- took a brutish, hard-line stance on an issue that required finesse and logic. The fate of Enes Kanter, and future prospective athletes like him, isn't a black-and-white issue. There's nothing here but gray, starting with the culture of European basketball. If a skilled teenager in Turkey wants to improve, short of leaving his family he has no choice but to play for a professional team. He can turn down the contract that will be offered him -- Kanter could be earning more money than you and me combined, right now, had he wanted to -- but eventually some of that money splashing around will spill onto him. Kanter got damp. Not sopping wet, but damp. That was enough for the NCAA to throw him out like, um, a baby with the bathwater.

The NCAA will consider Kentucky's appeal, which centers on the $33,033 in excess European club money that splashed onto Kanter -- literally pennies on the dollar for a 6-11 big man who would have pocketed more than $1 million had he played on the Turkish national team this summer.

Of that $33,033, almost half has never been touched, and Kanter's father -- a doctor -- is offering to repay all of it. This is not family that needed or even wanted to break NCAA rules. This is a wealthy family from Turkey that doesn't speak English and simply didn't understand the massive NCAA rulebook on amateurism.

Hell, I don't understand the rulebook either. Kyle Parker is a millionaire member of the Colorado Rockies organization, but the NCAA says he's less of a pro than Enes Kanter.

By Gregg Doyel National Columnist

John Calipari and Players React To Enes Kanter Decision

Enes Kanter Appeal Process

The world knows by now that the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled unfavorably in the case of Enes Kanter's amateurism. Specifically, they stated that $33,033 too much had be given to the Kanter's and thus he was to be considered a professional basketball player. Due to these facts in the case, he was ruled "permanently ineligible", a statement that makes a reversal during the appeals process seem bleak. Since we are all now heavily impacted by the appeals process, let's take a look at how it works.

Most interestingly to me, the appeals process does not include NCAA Clearinghouse staff. It is independent and comprised of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences. This committee can reduce or remove the conditions, but it cannot increase the conditions imposed by the staff.

This appeals process will not be to argue the facts in the case. The appeal in this case is to determine whether or not the NCAA applied the rule to the circumstances of this unique situation. Namely, the appeals body will determine whether or not the money used for educational expenses should be considered as an allowable expense under the rule.

Another difference in this process is that Enes Kanter will have an opportunity to speak to the committee. He'll have an opportunity to explain to the committee "the uniqueness of his circumstances" as Mitch Barnhart explained.

The two possible outcomes are clear. The appeals committee says Enes can play by removing or reducing the previously applied sanctions, or they uphold the original ruling of permanent ineligibility. Obviously the previous is the desired outcome for Enes, Kentucky and Big Blue Nation. And it shouldn't be necessarily considered a closed appeals process due to the facts above.

from a different angle, Enes Kanter, nike hoop summit 2010

How good is University of Kentucky without Kanter?

The NCAA’s ruling last week that Kentucky center Enes Kanter is “permanently ineligible,” sent shockwaves through college basketball.

Kanter was found to have received more than $33,000 in extra benefits while he played for a Turkish professional team as a teenager.

The Wildcats are appealing the ruling.

That leaves John Calipari, for now, without a dominant big man and raises the question: How good will UK be without Kanter, who is projected to be a top-five pick in next summer’s NBA draft?


Talent-laden Kentucky might be the one team in the country that could weather the loss of this level of talent and still be considered a national-title contender. Look at the way freshmen Terrence Jones (25 points, 12 rebounds), Brandon Knight (17 points, five assists) and Doron Lamb (20 points on 7-of-10 shooting) got off in the opener against East Tennessee State. The Wildcats shot 50 percent from 3-point distance, a great equalizer against anyone. That’s the good news. The less favorable report: forwards Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas were non-factors, combining for two points against ETSU. The SEC East is going to be a heck of a lot tougher than last year with Florida a true threat, Tennessee solid and Georgia lurking as a possible contender. The lack of an inside game is likely to present issues night-in and night-out for Calipari. And let’s face it, even with DeMarcus Cousins in the middle a year ago, Kentucky fell short of national championship expectations. Expect the Wildcats to finish second in the SEC East, win two games in the NCAA tournament and be mad in March once again.


Even without Enes Kanter, I still expect Kentucky to contend with Florida for the SEC East title before making a decent run in the NCAA tournament. And when I say decent, I’m talking about the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight – but not the Final Four. Kentucky is still ultra-talented with players such as freshmen Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, all of whom are expected to start. Upperclassmen Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins should have breakthrough seasons. Still, a lack of an inside presence will make it tough for Kentucky to become an elite team. My guess is that Kentucky will be outrebounded in at least half of its games against SEC opponents. Coach John Calipari will likely be forced to use a four-guard lineup. Whether they’re starting or coming off the bench, forwards Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas will have to play major roles, and that’s not good. Even if Kanter had played, I’m not convinced the Wildcats would’ve been good enough to contend for the NCAA title. But they definitely won’t now. Calipari needs to convince this talented crop of freshmen to stay another year so they can benefit from the presence of recent signees Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer, both of whom are forwards. The 2011-12 season has the potential to be a great one for Kentucky. This season, however, will be just average.

November 12, 2010

Kanter well worth the risk for Calipari

There’s a reason why just about everyone passed on Enes Kanter.

They all knew it was a long shot — at best — that the Turkish big man would be cleared to play college basketball by the NCAA.

However, Kentucky coach John Calipari rolled the dice, figuring it was worth the risk to see if he could maybe find a way to get Kanter on the court in a Wildcats uniform.

The NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff on Thursday night ruled Kanter permanently ineligible for receiving benefits “above his actual and necessary expenses” while playing for club basketball team Fenerbahce in Turkey.

Kanter played three years with Fenerbahce, and both Kentucky and the NCAA Eligibility Center agreed that he received $33,033 more than his necessary expenses for the 2008-09 campaign.

“Enes took advantage of an opportunity to play at the highest level available to him, but the consequences of receiving payments above his actual expenses is not compatible with the collegiate model of sports that our members have developed,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, in a statement.

That should be enough to keep Kanter off the court, but it’s not over yet.

There’s still an appeal process though which Kentucky will go in front of the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee — independently comprised of representatives from colleges, universities and athletic conferences — at the end of November.

It’s the last chance for Kentucky to make its case in the initial-eligibility process.

And unless UTEP coach Tony Barbee or UMass head man Derek Kellogg — two of Calipari’s former players — are on the committee, it’s difficult to imagine other administrators going against the NCAA’s decision in order to clear one of his players.

You see, Calipari isn’t exactly well-liked in college basketball circles.

And now, you’ve got one of his players, someone who the school has admitted took in excess of $33,000 from a Turkish basketball club, trying to get approved to play college basketball.

Kanter’s amateur status is now history.

He is a pro —plain and simple.

Sure, there are those who feel players should be allowed to take money, but under the current system, it’s illegal.

And it would set a bad precedent to clear Kanter.

That’s why just about everyone — even prep school powerhouse Oak Hill Academy — took a pass on Kanter.

Except for Calipari.

Calipari’s reputation is already cemented. Sure, he hasn’t been directly tied to his previous institutions — UMass and Memphis — vacating their Final Four appearances. However, Calipari was in charge of the program when Marcus Camby took money from agents and Derrick Rose’s SAT score was deemed invalid.

Taking a shot on Kanter was worth it for Calipari. It wouldn’t alter the perception, anyway, and anything that had been given to Kanter back in his days with Fenerbahce came prior to Kentucky jumping into the fray.

After all, Kanter, who will be allowed to practice with the team while Kentucky appeals the NCAA’s ruling, is a difference maker.

With the relentless big man, who is projected by many NBA executives as a top-five pick in the next NBA draft, Kentucky is a potential Final Four team. He’s a dominating rebounder and low-post scorer.

Think DeMarcus Cousins sans the emotional baggage.

Without him, the Wildcats are just another top 25 team and will need everything to fall into place to make a deep NCAA tournament run.

They still have a couple of talented freshmen who are ranked in’s Top 10 for the Class of 2010 — guard Brandon Knight and forward Terrance Jones — as well as returning starter Darius Miller on the wing.

But they are far from intimidating with Kanter sitting on the sidelines — or potentially back overseas.

Calipari will either have to play small-ball and go with a four-guard lineup or use Josh Harrellson or Eloy Vargas — both of whom are more suited to come off the bench for a team contending for an SEC championship.

That is, unless Kanter somehow wins his appeal later this month.

It appears unlikely, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Calipari.

November 9, 2010

Enes Kanter FAQ

Brett Dawson
UK beat writer

I did a radio interview today during which I was asked one of the many Enes Kanter questions that pop up in my e-mail inbox and when I'm out in Lexington, and it occurred to me that part of the reason I get asked these things so much is that I haven't really provided you a one-stop shop to read what I know (and don't) about Kanter at this point.

In the interest of correcting that oversight, here's a Kanter FAQ:

Q: Why exactly isn't Kanter playing?
His amateur status remains under review by the NCAA, which is examining benefits he received while playing for a pro club, Fenerbahce Ulker, in his native Turkey. For some background on both sides of the issue, you can read this New York Times piece from September with quotes from Fenerbahce's GM, and this Sporting News piece that features an e-mail interview with Kanter's father.

Q: UK opens the season on Friday. Any chance that we'll know the NCAA's ruling on Kanter before then?
I wouldn't expect it. Wouldn't rule it out, either. There's no way of knowing a definitive timetable. This we do know: there's no rule or policy that requires the NCAA to have a decision in place when the season starts.

Q: Is there any chance Kanter won't be eligible at all?
Sure. No outcome in this case should be surprising. The NCAA's decision could be ipacted by factors we're not even aware of. Because neither the NCAA nor UK is discussing it, we simply don't have all the facts.

Q: What's taking so long?
Again, we don't know for sure because of the lack of information from either side. But here's a guess. This is a complicated process. The NCAA seems to have received conflicting information from the Turkish pro club and the Kanter family. Sorting out the facts can't be easy. And this has the potential to be a landmark NCAA ruling, one that will be cited in future cases in which a college basketball program recruits a European player who's played for a club. The NCAA doesn't want to get it wrong.

Q: OK, hypothetically speaking, let's say the NCAA suspends Kanter for 10 games, but it doesn't make the announcement until five games into the season. Would the five games Kanter had already missed count as "time already served" on his suspension?
Almost certainly. That's the general rule at the NCAA, but spokesman Chuck Wynne cautions there are no absolutes. In an e-mail, Wynne -- who was speaking about NCAA cases in general; he can't address Kanter specifically -- wrote:

In most cases, the answer is yes. But every situation is unique. Ultimately, the outcome is based on the specific facts of the situation. Some general reasons why the games wouldn’t count would be something like the student-athlete being academically ineligible to compete or is injured and wouldn’t be available to play to begin with.

Q: What are you hearing about the odds that Kanter will be eligible?
I get this a lot, and the truth is, I'm hearing the same things you're hearing: a lot of speculation. If you see or hear anyone discussing a probable number of games Kanter will have to sit or a date by which this will all be resolved, take it with a grain of salt. The people who have any clue what's going on in this case aren't talking about it. As Matt Jones noted on Kentucky Sports Radio, this is the biggest story around UK basketball right now, and as soon as anyone in the media hears anything authoritative, it's going to spread like wildfire. Trust me, if the NCAA makes a ruling on Kanter, you'll know about it in a hurry.

Q: How good is this guy, anyway?
He's good. I've seen Kanter practice a few times, and he's athletic and skilled. Where I think he'd make the biggest difference for UK is as a rebounder. He's great at it. Offensively, Kanter's being overrated a little, at least based on what I've seen. He's a good player with skills around the basket, and he's a tremendous athlete for a guy his size. But he's still learning to play in the post. Kanter dunks with ferocity and he has a nice shooting touch, but fans expecting a Turkish DeMarcus Cousins are probably going to be disappointed.

Q: Any predictions on what will happen?
Nope. But here's a source you can ask.