LEXINGTON, Ky - Enes Kanter remains ineligible to play college basketball, and the University of Kentucky has exhausted its options in pursuing an NCAA appeal of that decision.
The NCAA on Friday denied Kanter's appeal of a ruling that he was permanently ineligible because of benefits he received from a pro club in his native Turkey.
That was the final step in the NCAA appeals process for the 6-foot-11 Kanter, who has not played this season for the 10th-ranked Wildcats.
"We are obviously disappointed in this decision and find it unfortunate that a group of adults would come to such a decision regarding the future of an 18-year-old young man," UK coach John Calipari said in a release. UK plans to keep Kanter with the team as an undergraduate student-assistant coach.
"My job will be to prepare him for his entry into the NBA Draft, which this decision by the Association will likely necessitate," Calipari said.
The NCAA ruled Kanter permanently ineligible on Nov. 11, after determining that he had received $33,033 in "benefits above his actual and necessary expenses" while playing for Fenerbahce Ulker, a basketball club in his native Turkey.
Kanter received that money in 2008-09, before he moved to the United States, where he spent the 2009-10 school year at Stoneridge Prep in California and signed to play at UK.
When the initial-eligibility ruling was announced, UK said it planned to appeal the decision, and it did file an appeal with the NCAA.
But the NCAA never publicly released a ruling on that appeal, and on Dec. 3, the NCAA announced that UK had requested to submit new information in the Kanter case in the hopes of overturning the initial eligibility ruling.
It is "standard NCAA process" to allow the submission of such information, according to an NCAA release at the time.
ESPN reported that the new information was prompted by an NCAA ruling on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who was allowed to continue playing for the Tigers after the NCAA determined his father had sought payment for his son's commitment to Mississippi State.
In e-mails to Sporting News, Kanter's father, Mehmet Kanter, said that his son never had knowledge of Mehmet's dealings with Fenerbahce, and that the family spent the majority of the money it received from the club on educational expenses, including tuition and tutors.
"We were informed by the NCAA that the flexible decisions made by the NCAA staff in other high-profile cases could not be used in case precedent and were not binding on the NCAA going forward," UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a release. "The University of Kentucky was very hopeful that our student-athlete might receive the same type of consideration afforded to these other athletes but that did not happen."
Kanter was the highest-ranked recruit in UK's No. 1-ranked 2010 recruiting class. Both Rivals.com and Scout.com listed him as the No. 3 overall player in the class of 2010. ESPN.com NBA Draft analyst Chad Ford ranks Kanter as the No. 4 prospect in the 2011 draft.
Kanter's ineligibility has been a hot topic among UK fans, who adopted "Free Enes" as a slogan, sporting t-shirts and waving signs emblazoned with it at games.