Q&A: The Enes Kanter situation

Frequently asked questions about The New York Times’ story about Enes Kanter’s situation. Answered quickly, if not completely thoroughly, but to the best of my ability:

Q: Is UK being accused of any wrongdoing?
A: Absolutely not. Not even remotely.

Q: Is there any proof that Kanter’s team in Turkey made payments to him or provided benefits?
A: The club’s general manager told The Times that it has provided housing and bank records to the NCAA, but did not provide those documents to the newspaper. Among those, the story says, are records essentially showing canceled checks that Kanter’s family deposited into a bank. If that’s the case, it’s difficult documentation to refute. Having said that, The Times wasn’t able to get those documents, so there’s no way of telling what, if anything, the club sent the NCAA, which does not comment on such matters.

Q: What are the key sticking points for Kanter?
A: The biggest is the team’s assertion that he was paid a salary, particularly in his last season, on a par with the team’s other players, as much as $6,500 per month (along with an initial payment of $19,800). If this is true, then his eligibility would be in serious jeopardy. The issue of housing and other “expense” related benefits is something the NCAA has a formula for dealing with when it comes to foreign club players. However, if Kanter is deemed to have been a professional in that time, his amateur status is gone and he won’t be cleared by the NCAA. One term to consider that is often used in these cases is “intent to professionalize.” Kanter’s actions will be examined in this light. It is, an admittedly nebulous thing to prove or disprove, but it is a rationale the NCAA uses in such decisions.

Q: The story says he did not sign a contract with the club? Does that help his case with the NCAA?
A: I think it does. Signing a contract, or even a “work agreement” — as we found out with Muhammad Lasege 10 years ago — can also end a player’s amateur status. If there were a contract for Kanter, he’d likely have no shot.

Q: What if the club doesn’t provide enough documentation to prove it paid Kanter a salary?
A: This is kind of a murky area. For all practical purposes, all prospects are essentially ineligible until they meet certain eligibility requirements (it’s kind of a guilty-until-proven-innocent situation). While the NCAA isn’t likely to determine a player’s eligibility on flimsy evidence, the testimony of a club team that it had a verbal agreement to pay a player a salary could be enough for it to determine that the player was a professional. NCAA officials don’t necessarily need documents, though I’m sure they would prefer to have them. In other words, it is not so much the NCAA’s job to get these claims from the Turkish team and verify them as much as it is Kanter’s (and UK’s, as best it can) to provide information to refute them.

Q: What about these Turkish club officials? Could they be motivated because they get money if Kanter goes to another pro team? Could they be ticked off at him?
A: They are ticked off at him. The Times story (responsibly) documents this, high up in the story, and points out that the club has a financial stake in Kanter not playing college basketball. It does not mean that what the club is saying is not true, but that motivation has to be considered, certainly.

Q: Why is The New York Times out to get UK? I mean, going all the way to Turkey, come on!
A: This was a bit of bad luck for UK. I’m sure efforts were being made to get to these Turkish club officials, but being there in person made it more effective, and the FIBA World Basketball Championships being held in Istanbul, an event The Times would likely have covered anyway, made it more feasible (I originally said convenient, but there’s nothing convenient about reporting from Istanbul) for them to report this. I don’t want to speak for The Times, which can go anywhere for any story — and to its credit, often does — but I’d be surprised if they’d have sent a reporter to Turkey just to report on the eligibility of a UK freshman, without this international basketball competition going on.

Q: How long will it take for this to be resolved?
A: John Calipari told The Sporting News today that something could be decided in two weeks, but the more involved the discussions get, and the more documentation is brought into play, the longer it can go. These have been known to drag well into December. The NCAA is under no timetable.

Q: Does Kanter have any recourse if the NCAA rules against him?
A: Kanter can appeal any decision. He also has the option of hiring a lawyer, though schools hate it when their players do this. I certainly think any student who finds himself in a tough situation with the NCAA should not go into interviews or anything else without his own counsel, but that’s just my opinion.

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