Barring a huge surprise, Kentucky will be without Enes Kanter this season. The NCAA’s ruling on the Turkish center’s eligibility — he was deemed to have been improperly compensated while playing for his Turkish club, Fenerbahce Ulker – brought about myriad reactions from around the web and some disbelief in Lexington.
As a result, the ‘Cats will simply be a little smaller this season and Kanter will be watching unless the school’s appeal succeeds. But that doesn’t seem likely.
Regardless of your feelings on the decision – summed up in two camps of “Big Blue got screwed!” and “Calipari couldn’t cheat on this one” – the case raises some interesting questions about the NCAA’s eligibility process.
Why would Kanter be deemed ineligible when a player who received similar benefits – Renardo Sidney – and was eventually cleared to play for Mississippi State this season. Both players ran afoul of NCAA rules. So how are they different? Glenn Logan from A sea of Blue breaks it all down in this excellent post, which includes excerpts from the NCAA’s rule book. His two crucial grafs are below:
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.
This could still be the case with Kanter, though it doesn’t seem likely he’d wait on entering the NBA draft for another season. He’s already a known commodity among scouts and coaches and would be a lottery pick. Sidney needed another season of seasoning.
But one would think the Sidney case would serve as a precedent for Kanter, not an exception. And that’s what’s ultimately the most frustrating about the case: the NCAA doesn’t seem to be applying to same standards to each case.
Isn’t that the least it can do?