I was out when the Kanter news broke and had to have it delivered by Will Lentz via phone, but I appreciate his help on getting it on the site as soon as possible. It is of course bad news and I really feel for Enes, who wanted to play for UK as much as anyone possibly could. I know he is severely disappointed as is the Big Blue Nation. On a personal level, I think the NCAA got the decision wrong, but I understand how it was made. It was a tough situation for all parties involved and this decision was a close call in the end. A few thoughts:
— The issue all came down to 33,000 dollars paid to Kanter in his last year with the Club that the NCAA believed was not paid as an “actual expense.” I find it hard to believe that such a small sum of money would be considered salary, but ultimately the Kanters could not convince the NCAA that this excess amount was spent on expenses. Of that $33,000, $20,000 was spent on education expenses, but under the current NCAA rules, that cant be considered as an expense. So bizarrely, an academic organization does not consider payment for academic expenses as a justified expense from a pro team. That is beyond strange….but it is the rule and UK did know about it. My guess is that the rule could be changed and this will be argued as part of the “equities” argument on appeal (more on that later), but it is the rule as it now stands…no matter how stupid it is.
— It is not a good sign that both sides basically agreed on the facts three months ago, meaning there was no new evidence that actually was produced. I have read some that say that the NCAA “believed the Turkish club” over the Kanters, but that actually isnt correct. The NCAA simply decided that the money given was not justified as “actual expenses”….something that the Turkish club has little to do with. There was a dollar amount given….both sides agreed as to what that total amount was. The NCAA just simply didnt believe it was an expense…that is the sum of it. The Turkish GM may be a crook and certainly had selfish motives, but in the end the facts were generally agreed upon.
— I do think that the best decision would have been to allow the Kanters to pay back the excess money and then have him ruled eligible. Ultimately the amount is so small and the usage of the money lacked any nefarious factors (since the majority was spent on education), thus the NCAA should have acknowledged that Kanter was a test case and then allowed this to set up the future cases, with Kanter able to fix the problems he couldnt have forseen (about the excess amount). That would have seemed to me to have been the best result. It obviously is not the result that was chosen.
— I will talk much more about this tomorrow, but the appeal will be a different proceeding than what took place so far. Whereas the original group that made the determination is a particular set of NCAA employees, the appeal group includes members from the various NCAA schools and has a different set of criteria. The original group simply tries to apply the rule, whereas the appeal body has the ability to look at the rule from a more legal standpoint. There is a consideration of the equities involved (think “fairness” issues) AND Enes Kanter can (and likely will) be able to speak directly to the group). One cant appeal the facts, they are set….but the facts really arent in dispute. What can be changed is how the rule is looked at going forward…something that might help Kanter. It is a long shot, but Enes does have the potential to have a viable appeal due to the unique nature of this being the first interpretation of the rule.
— Remember what I said over and over during the process…no one knew what the NCAA would do or what the result would be…and that included those who put out wrong information just a few hours before the announcement. This as a secretive process and even those at UK were often left in the dark. It was definitely a case where those with “sources” were talking with no real information.
We will look more at the appeal tomorrow, but for now it is ok to be bummed out. Enes would have been a great addition to the team on the court and made a Final Four a possibility. Plus he is a great kid who loved the idea of wearing the Blue and White. This is a tough result and one that really does leave me disappointed.