Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
INDIANAPOLIS —University of Kentucky men’s basketball student-athlete Enes Kanter has been ruled permanently ineligible for receiving impermissible compensation from a professional team.
The NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee has upheld the NCAA staff decision that Kanter received $33,033 above his actual and necessary expenses for one year while playing for a club basketball team in Turkey.
The reinstatement committee is the final appeal opportunity. The independent committee is composed of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences. It can reduce or remove the conditions but cannot increase the conditions imposed by the staff.
As a result of the ruling, Kanter will not be allowed to compete, practice or travel with the team as a player, but is able to receive financial aid to continue his education at Kentucky. The university has indicated it plans to designate Kanter as an undergraduate student-assistant coach. In this capacity, Kanter could perform limited coaching duties with the team.
Actual and necessary expenses are defined by NCAA rules and generally relate to a player’s expenses directly necessary for practice and competition on a team. Some examples include meals and lodging directly tied to practice or competition, coaching, medical insurance and transportation tied to practice or competition.
Kanter played three seasons with the Turkish sport club Fenerbahce from 2006-07 to 2008-09. Although he competed primarily for the club’s under-18 junior team, he did compete on the club’s senior team in 2008-09. According to facts agreed to by the university and the NCAA Eligibility Center, Kanter received $33,033 more than his actual expenses for the 2008-09 season.
Although a recent NCAA rule change allows prospective student-athletes to compete on teams with professionals while maintaining their amateur status before college enrollment, the membership maintained the longstanding rule that receipt of money above actual and necessary expenses from a professional team is a violation and defines the individual as a professional under NCAA legislation. That was the case here.
Kanter was initially ruled ineligible Nov. 11 by the NCAA reinstatement staff. Before reaching its decision, the reinstatement staff considered a number of factors, including: the nature and seriousness of the violation; any impermissible benefits received; the student-athlete’s level of responsibility; any mitigating factors presented by the university; applicable NCAA guidelines; and any relevant case precedent.
The original staff decision was upheld by the reinstatement committee on Dec 2.
On Dec. 8, the university asked for and was granted reconsideration of its case based upon new information. This is in keeping with NCAA policy allowing schools a second opportunity to state their case should new information become available.
The new information did not change the original statement of facts that had been agreed to by the university and the NCAA prior to the start of the reinstatement process.
After considering the new information, the reinstatement staff once again ruled Kanter permanently ineligible Dec 10. In response to the staff decision, the university chose to appeal a second time to the reinstatement committee. Kentucky’s appeal was heard on Jan. 6 and the school was informed on Jan. 7 of the committee’s decision.
“While unfortunate for Enes and the University of Kentucky, the final decision of the reinstatement committee is completely compatible with the collegiate model of sports our members have developed, since he received a significant amount of money, above his actual expenses from a professional team prior to coming to college,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs.
Summary of timeline
Kanter moved to the United States in 2009 and attended a prep high school before enrolling at Kentucky in the fall of 2010.
The NCAA Eligibility Center staff first contacted Kentucky in March 2010 and Enes Kanter directly on March 24, 2010, with questions about his involvement with a Turkish professional basketball team. From the beginning and throughout the process, the university and the NCAA conducted multiple interviews and compiled documentation pertinent to the case.
In June, the NCAA staff provided Kentucky and Kanter with information it received indicating Kanter received benefits from the Turkish team. In August, Kanter and his father acknowledged receiving those benefits. From August to mid-October, NCAA staff assisted Kentucky as it pursued factual and interpretive appeals.
On Oct. 25, Kentucky agreed to the statement of facts in the case and on Oct. 27 asked the student-athlete reinstatement staff to rule on his eligibility. The staff, after an initial review, asked for more information on Nov. 1. Kentucky responded on Nov. 4 and 8, and the NCAA reinstatement staff made its decision on Nov. 11. Under NCAA student-athlete reinstatement guidelines Kanter was allowed to practice but not compete or travel with the team during the appeal process.
On Dec. 1, the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee heard the first appeal.
On Dec. 2, the committee notified the NCAA reinstatement staff it had upheld its decision of permanent ineligibility. NCAA staff then notified the University of Kentucky. During the notification call, the university indicated it had new information and requested a reconsideration.
On Dec. 8, the university forwarded its case based upon the new information to the NCAA reinstatement staff.
On Dec. 10, the NCAA reinstatement staff upheld its initial ruling of permanent ineligibility.
On Dec. 20, the university notified the NCAA it planned to appeal the second staff decision.
On Jan. 6, the reinstatement committee heard the school’s appeal before rendering its decision.
On Jan. 7, the University of Kentucky was notified that its appeal had been denied.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.