Freshman center Enes Kanter has been ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA "for receiving benefits above his actual and necessary expenses while playing for a club basketball team in Turkey," according to a release sent Thursday evening.
According to the release, Kentucky will appeal the decision at the end of the month to the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee. The appeal to the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee is the last available appeal in the process.
The release said the NCAA and Kentucky agreed to a statement of facts regarding Kanter's case on Oct. 25. The release said that according to the facts agreed upon by the NCAA and UK, Kanter received $33,033 more than his actual and necessary expenses for the 2008-09 season, playing for the Turkish club Fenerbahce.
"Enes took advantage of an opportunity to play at the highest level available to him, but the consequences of receiving payments above his actual expenses is not compatible with the collegiate model of sports that our members have developed," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, according to the release.
Said UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart, according to the release: "We appreciate that the NCAA has an appeals process to allow this young man to defend the uniqueness of his circumstances. Enes is a great kid who is working hard in the classroom and enjoying being a college student. It is our hope that he will be allowed to continue his academic and athletic career at Kentucky."
UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said coach John Calipari was unavailable for comment Thursday evening, but Calipari will comment Friday.
Kanter is allowed to practice but not compete or travel with the team while Kentucky's appeal is pending. Peevy said Kanter will practice immediately even though the appeal won't be heard until the end of the month.
The 6-11, 262-pound center was expected to fill a big void in the Cats' frontcourt as a freshman. If his ineligibility stands, UK will rely on senior Josh Harrellson and junior newcomer Eloy Vargas under the basket.
If Kanter remains ineligible after UK's final appeal, the Cats will be down to 10 men on the roster.
Before the decision, Calipari had expressed in October confidence the NCAA was solely concerned with making the correct decision about the Turkish big man's future.
"The NCAA is not working against us or this young man," Calipari said at SEC Media Days. "This is a hard decision. He played for the club when he was 14, 15 and 16 (years old). They know that. They also know the decision they make, with a kid in a similar situation, this is going to be it.
"I think our fans get to (thinking), 'Why is the NCAA doing this to us?' They're not doing it to us, they're trying to figure this out," the coach said. "I want the kid to play tomorrow but I want (the NCAA) to get it right."
According to the release, the following is a timeline of the NCAA's investigation into Kanter's eligibility:
MARCH 2010: NCAA Eligibility Center staff first contacted Kentucky. NCAA Eligibility Center contacted Kanter directly on March 24, with questions about his involvement with a Turkish professional basketball team. The university and the NCAA conducted multiple interviews and compiled documentation pertinent to the case, according to the release.
JUNE 2010: The NCAA staff provided Kentucky and Kanter with information it received indicating Kanter received benefits from the Turkish team.
AUGUST 2010: Kanter and his father acknowledged receiving $33,033 above Kanter's expense from the club team. From August to mid-October, NCAA staff assisted Kentucky as it pursued its due process with factual and interpretive appeals. Kentucky played three exhibition games in Windsor, Ontario on August 15-17. Kanter did not travel with the team.
OCT. 25, 2010: Kentucky agreed to the statement of facts in the case.
OCT. 27, 2010: Kentucky asked the NCAA's student-athlete reinstatement staff to rule on his eligibility.
NOV. 1, 2010 The NCAA staff, after an initial review, asked for more information. Kentucky responded on Nov. 4 and 8.
NOV. 11, 2010 The NCAA reinstatement staff ruled Kanter permanently ineligible.