Posted on: January 13, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 11:47 am
Posted by MATT JONES
Everyone in America has said something about the most famous player to never step on a college court, Enes Kanter. But likely no one knows the situation around Kanter more thoroughly than Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News. He spoke out about Kanter this week and his comments were quite interesting concerning the inconsistencies shown by the NCAA over the last few months:
Posted on: January 10, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 3:33 pm
Posted by Matt Jones
Or at least so we thought. Yesterday our own Seth Davis spoke with NCAA president Mark Emmert about Enes Kanter and relayed some of his thoughts at halftime of the Kansas-Michigan game. According to Davis, Emmert said that the Kanter decision should not have surprised most college basketball fans, as Enes was a professional due to the money he received from a professional club in Europe. Fair enough. While it has been noted that such a distinction is not necessarily to be found in an NCAA rule book , it at least works logically, even if it violates some sense of ex post facto fairness.
But then, as if to justify the decision further, Emmert went on to say that part of the reason no one should be surprised about the Kanter verdict is that very few teams recruited Kanter in the first place. Emmert’s assumption of course is that very few teams took the time to look into recruiting the talented big man because they all assumed he would not be eligible to play in the United States. While one who followed Kanter’s recruitment might disagree with that conclusion (plenty of teams inquired into his services), it also leaves out one salient point. One team that undoubtedly recruited Kanter and went so far as to take a commitment from him was Washington, coincidentally the university where Emmert was president at the time.
It seems quite an odd statement for Emmert to make and one that would seem to require some explanation. If Kanter was so certain to have been ineligible at the NCAA level, why would Emmert allow his university’s basketball program to recruit him. Surely Emmert knows that Washington took the commitment , so is he now suggesting that the school itself backed away from Kanter later in the process? If so, does that conclusion vibe with coach Lorenzo Romar’s, who has in the past expressed disappointment at losing Kanter to Kentucky after his decommitment, recollection of the matter? And even more importantly, if other programs didn’t recruit Kanter because of eligibility, why did Washington initially? Did it not look into those concerns initially or did the NCAA president’s former school simply not share them? Or maybe Emmert will simply say that as president of Washington, he didn't know anything about the recruitment of high-profile athletes for his university. So much for presidential oversight.
By making the rather bizarre statement to Davis , Emmert has opened up a new set of questions that likely need to be answered. The president probably could have simply said that Kanter was a professional and as such, the NCAA ruled him ineligible. But in his manifest desire to make the case seem more simplistic than it is, he has raised the question of what role his former university may have had in the Kanter case and how his time at that university fits in with the idea that schools stayed away from the apparent professional.
In recent cases, the NCAA seems to have taken the approach that it should explain its decisions more thoroughly and respond to criticism it receives after the judgments. However in case after case, these “explanations” seems to raise more questions than existed prior to them. While I generally applaud an organization that says more rather than less, it seems not to work for the NCAA. Maybe the organization should heed the famous words of Mark Twain and cease to talk, as with each explanation, it is slowly removing any doubt of their consistently inconsistent decision-making process.Photo: AP
Posted on: January 7, 2011 8:24 pm
Posted by MATT JONES
The NCAA on Friday reaffirmed its previous ruling that Enes Kanter will never step foot on a basketball court for Kentucky. The decision was not particularly surprising, as the organization had three times previously ruled against Kanter and seemed for some time to be dead set on drawing an Enes line in the sand, with virtually all other NCAA athletes on one side and Kanter standing on the other. A myriad of conspiracy theories can be trumped up for the decision, ranging from the NCAA's general dislike of Calipari to its President standing up for his former employer, the University of Washington, where Kanter was committed before flipping and heading to Kentucky. But the simple fact is that a conspiracy theory is not needed for the NCAA to act irrationally. In fact at this point, a lack of coherent reasoning and consistency seems ingrained in the core fabric of the organization.
The facts of the Enes Kanter situation have always been conceded. Kanter played in Turkey for two seasons and was paid a sum of money between the ages of 16-17 to be part of the professional club, Fenerbache. For many national sportswriters and college coaches, for whom nuance and shades of grey are as rare as a dodo bird, that has settled the issue. However, the NCAA has created a system in recent years to attempt to allow these so-called "professionals" the ability to play college basketball in America. Up until this point, the NCAA has recognized that the European youth system is different than that of America, with the notion of popular amateur athletics on the University level virtually non-existent. The best talent of Europe signs early with a professional club and is trained in the equivalent of a basketball academy, with money paid for their training and expenses. The NCAA has allowed these players to come to the United States and even last year, repealed the antiquated rule that forced them to sit out an equal number of college games to the ones they played for the professional team.
In Kanter's case however, the NCAA deemed $33,000 of payment given to Enes's father to be above what was a "necessary and actual expense." To the NCAA, that money represented a salary, given because Kanter was a professional. But of course, that conclusion doesn't pass the smell test. Does anyone honestly believe that a player would be deemed a professional, while playing for one of the richest clubs in Europe, in one of the most expensive cities in the world (Istanbul) and would only accept $16,500 a year in the process? If Kanter and his club truly considered him to be a professional, why would he have been paid such a small amount? Kanter's father has insisted that over $20,000 of that money was used for educational expenses, which if true, means that a little over $10,000 over the course of two years made Kanter a professional in the eyes of him and his club.
While that decision might seem a bit irrational, viewed in the abstract, it could at least be defended. But of course, the NCAA does not operate in a vacuum, and over the course of the last three months has issued three high-profile decisions allowing three high-profile players to compete despite amateurism violations. Each could be defended with some tenuous logic when released, but when viewed together with the Kanter decision, no consistent theme can be found.
Take Kansas Freshman Josh Selby. He was suspended for nine games and required to pay over $5700 to a charity of his choice due to his acceptance of that amount of improper benefits while in high school. Under NCAA rules, Selby was no longer an amateur. But the NCAA looked at the case and somehow determined that this violation could be redeemed if the money was simply paid back. How is the excess $5700 in expenses different than Kanter's $33,000? Is it just that the total is too large? Maybe so, but there is nothing in the NCAA rule book that says the amount makes a difference. Is the difference that the money was paid by a European club rather than a hustling street agent? Maybe so, but there is nothing in the NCAA rulebook that says where the illegal money comes from should make a difference. The difference is manufactured, but never explained by the NCAA.
Take Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. His father admittedly asked for $180,000 in improper benefits from Mississippi State, but the NCAA allowed Newton to play because it deemed that it could not be proven that his son knew about the money. Ok fair enough. In a vacuum that makes sense. But Kanter also claims to not have known about the money taken by his father in excess of the "actual and necessary" expenses. The NCAA claims that the fact money was taken is different than if money was simply asked for by the parent. However that difference is not based on any rule in the NCAA Rule book and the logic behind both cases (the son should not be punished for the sins of the father) applies to both equally. So why is Newton, who one has to strain the laws of credibility to believe didn't know his father was on the take, playing and Kanter, who likely didn't do the expense budget and probably didn't know the amount his father took, ineligible? Its hard to comprehend.
Or take the Ohio State five. All five broke NCAA rules when they sold or exchanged NCAA memorabilia that was given to them for various team accomplishments. All broke the rules and violated the amateurism standard. But, the NCAA allowed them to miss only five games and even went further by delaying the punishment because the group was supposedly unaware of the rule they were breaking. I am certain that 16 year-old Enes Kanter in Turkey had no clue what the NCAA rules were when he took the money from Fenerbache, so why doesn't the "I didnt know" apply to him? Is it because he has no BCS Sugar Bowl upcoming?
The simplistic way to look at the Kanter situation is also the easiest. He played for a professional team, so he was a "pro", end of story. But, when one looks beyond the surface level, those simplistic distinctions breakdown and are shown to be based on nothing in the NCAA rule book or from any logical consistency. Josh Selby, Cam Newton, the Ohio State Five and Enes Kanter all broke NCAA rules. All of them should have been ruled ineligible based upon a strict reading of the NCAA rules. But in three of the cases, the NCAA decided that the rules needed bending and rendered punishments that allowed for "flexibility." In the Kanter case, the rules were read strictly. What explains the difference? Well nothing in the NCAA rule book or any logical framework does, so all we are left with is one conclusion. The only thing certain about the NCAA's decision making process is that it will be consistently inconsistent.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted by MATT JONES
The NCAA originally deemed Kanter ineligible due to $33,000 in benefits he received from a Turkish club team that it deemed to be above his “actual and necessary expenses.” This ruling was upheld, as the NCAA because according to NCAA Vice President of Academic Affairs Kevin Lennon, Kanter "received a significant amount of money, above his actual expenses from a professional team prior to coming to college." This is the second time the Appeals Board has upheld an NCAA ruling deeming Kanter ineligible and it represents according to the NCAA, Kanter’s “final appeal opportunity.”
After the ruling, Kentucky Coach John Calipari said, “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." As a result of the ruling, Kanter will not be allowed to practice or travel with the team, although the University does expect to keep him with the program as an undergraduate student assistant.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 1:34 pm
Posted by Matt Jones
With Kentucky close to entering SEC play on Saturday versus Georgia, the status of the elephant in the UK locker room is also about to be determined. A source has confirmed that today is the day when Enes Kanter's final appeal will be heard by the NCAA. The Turkish big man's saga has been a confusing one. After initially being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA due to benefits he accepted while a member of a Turkish basketball club, Kanter's appeal was then delayed after the Cam Newton decision. Kentucky went back to the NCAA, citing supposed "new information" and since the NCAA agreed to rehear the case, Kanter and UK have been in limbo.
Now, according to sources, Kanter will face the NCAA appeals board this afternoon, with a decision expected within the next 72 hours. Because the Kanter situation has been deemed an "appeal", it is assumed that Kanter lost his rehearing with the NCAA, although no official ruling has been released. The appeal this afternoon will likely represent the final stage of Kanter's eligibility determination by the NCAA, and one way or the other, Kentucky and Kanter should get closure on the process. Many NBA scouts project Kanter to be a potential Top 5 pick in this year's NBA Draft, although his father has stated that if allowed to play next season, he will return to the University of Kentucky.
For the state of Kentucky, the "Free Enes" campaign has gone non-stop for over three months. By next Monday, we will know if it worked.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 2:00 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
Is it possible a probable top-five NBA pick would bypass playing pro for a chance to wear Kentucky threads?
According to Enes Kanter's father, yes.
Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy, who's had contact with Dr. Mehmet Kanter before, corresponded with him again recently. Dr. Kanter is making Internet headlines this afternoon because of these words:
“Enes would do anything to play and help UK, his teammates and fans,” Mehmet Kanter wrote. “In the last two years, one thing me and Enes never discussed was him being pro. He didn’t mention to me about NBA or draft and I guarantee you as a father – if that’s the NCAA's decision Enes will be a sophomore next year in UK.”DeCourcy's piece emphasizes the point: the elder Kanter is speaking on behalf of his son and guaranteeing Enes Kanter will play for John Calipari next year if the NCAA rules him permanently ineligible for this season.
Easy to say now, when the money's not spread out on a table before him and aren't in the room, painting the picture of just how rich Kanter can be by June of 2011.
The basic rundown on Enes Kanter, if you need the catching up: He's a Turkish-born player who, in order to further his career/improve his chances at playing collegiately in the United States, played on a professional team, Fenerbahce Ulker, in his home country. But after UK recruited him and Kanter was admitted into the school, it was discovered he received too much money while playing overseas. That led to him being declared ineligible. The NCAA doesn't prohibit young men from playing on pro teams; the rub is all in the amount of money they receive. It was deemed Kanter was paid beyond normal living expenses.
Since then, it's been a lot of back and forth, and the general manager of Fenerbahce hasn't been so helpful in the process (he would benefit from Kanter going back to Turkey and playing there which, yeah, isn't happening). Kentucky shifted its attack with the NCAA three weeks ago, dropping its appeal of the decision and instead realigning and presenting an entirely new case on Kanter's eligibility.
That's where we stand now. Word could and should come soon on if Kanter can and will play for UK this season. This process has felt like it's been going on four times as long as it should have.
Beyond everything, this gives Kentucky fans more hope they'll get to see a player in their team's uniform ... at some point ... maybe. He's become a cult figure in the Bluegrass State because of this elongated drama.