The saga surrounding prized Turkish recruit Enes Kanter and his eligibility has finally ended. The NCAA ruled on Friday that that Enes Kanter will not be eligible to play in the NCAA.
First lets get you caught up to speed if you are not familiar with the situation. Enes Kanter is from Turkey. There are no high school basketball teams in Turkey so your only opportunity to play is to play in the national program or play for professional teams. During the 08-09 season Kanter was a reserve player for the Fenerbahce Ulker Turkish professional basketball team. He made appearances off of the bench in 9 contests. According to FIBA rules you are not allowed to be a professional player until you are 18, during his time on these teams Kanter was not considered a professional but played along side professionals and recieved money from the club for necessary expenses. After the season Kanter was offered a multi year multi-million dollar professional contract from both Fenerbahce and Olyimpiacos B.C. a team from Greece. Kanter declined both offers to maintain his amateur status. Kanter's father is a doctor and wanted Enes to be educated in the United States.
After that season Kanter moved to the United States to pursue his desire of playing basketball in the United States. He enrolled at the Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley, California. It was during this time that he made a name for himself in the recruiting world and really exploded after a monster performance at the Nike Hoops Summit.
Now, according to facts Kanter received $33,033 more than his expenses for the 2008-09 season. NCAA rule allows recruits to play for teams with professionals while maintaining their amateur status before college. But the bylaw states that any such benefits cannot exceed actual and necessary expenses, which include meals, transportation and lodging directly tied to practice or competition, coaching and medical insurance. The addititional funds have been reported to be related to educational expenses.
No one is disputing the fact that Enes Kanter played on a professional team, which many stars from Europe have. And the Kanter's recognize that money was paid however have made it clear that they are willing to pay it all back and were unaware that this would make him ineligible to play in the NCAA. The Kanter's have also indicated that they would be willing to sit the entire year and forego the NBA Draft to give Enes the opportunity to play next season at Kentucky. All of these points indicate a strong desire to have their son play College Basketball.
I have tried very hard to look at this without bias, which is tough to do since I am a Kentucky Basketball fan. There is without a doubt that Kanter is ineligble in the letter of the law, but what about the spirit of the law? If you look at it in the spirit of the law the Kanter's tried to do everything they could to keep him eligbile to play the NCAA. They were cooperative and willing to do whatever they could to give him the opportuinty to play. If you compare that to other situations and rulings around the NCAA I do not think these violations are egregious enough to rule that he cannot play in the NCAA. I would rather see them rule to pay the money back, take a number of games suspension and allow him to play college Basketball.