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NCAA in the process of taking down two of college sports biggest stars

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

If someone had asked you as summertime was ending who you thought could be the first overall picks in the 2020 NFL and NBA Drafts, logical choices would have been Ohio State defensive end Chase Young and Memphis’ freshman center James Wiseman.

And now here we are a few weeks before Thanksgiving and we’re finding out Young and Wiseman have something else in common.

Both players are in trouble with the NCAA over loans they allegedly accepted. And both are in danger of being suspended because of it. In fact, Wiseman already has been.

In both instances, its just another example of the NCAA over-reaching and conjuring up conspiracy theories where none seem to exist.

Let’s start with Young, the top defensive player in the nation who was a likely candidate to become the first defender since Charles Woodson to win the Heisman Trophy.

Last weekend, ESPN reported Young would receive a four-game suspension for accepting a loan from a family friend to help fly his girlfriend to last year’s Rose Bowl. According to reports, the money came from someone Young knew before his collegiate career began.

After Ohio State’s win over Maryland on Saturday, the university vigorously denied that report.

Apparently, the length of the suspension is designed to be proportionate to the value of the loan, which Young has since been repaid. Ohio State is optimistic its appeal will result in a reduction of the penalty.

Despite the confidence the school seems to have, the Buckeyes held Young out of the 73-14 win over Maryland, obviously aware they didn’t need him to win and are not anxious to be accused of using an illegible player.

There’s no reason for Ohio State to play him at Rutgers this weekend, either. That’s another game it should win by at least 50.

“We went through a little adversity this week,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said after the Maryland game. “Adversity reveals character, and our character was at the forefront of this game. I felt we came out and showed we’re made of something special here.”

Young is a dominating player. He leads the FBS with 13.5 sacks and is tied for second with 15.5 tackles for loss. He also tied Ohio State’s single-game records for sacks (four) and tackles for loss (five) in its win over Wisconsin on Oct. 26.

The Athletic reported Young spoke to his teammates after the program decided he would not play against Maryland. He apologized for the distraction his case had brought to the team and urged it to play hard against the Terrapins.

There is a bit of intrigue about Maryland’s possible involvement in the NCAA case. Some believe the university was responsible for tipping off the NCAA about Young.

You got the sense on Saturday that Ohio State feels the same way. Why would they have decided to try and onside kick after taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter?

Maybe they wanted to embarrass Maryland on the way to kicking its ass.

The sad part of all of this is looking like Young might not be able to play in Ohio State’s upcoming  Big Ten showdowns against Penn State and Michigan, let alone the Big Ten Championship and any subsequent College Football Playoff games.

Is that fair to the kid or the program? We don’t think so.

“We’re just going to take it day by day,” Day said. “Chase is dealing with a situation that we’re all supporting him with, and once we get some clarity on what’s going on, we’ll go from there. But until then, we focus on the team the best we can. We’re going to get through it together. He knows we have his back, and that’s important.”

(Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

The Wiseman case is much different, both in terms of the details and how his school is reacting to it.

Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA last Friday because his family accepted an $11,500 loan from Penny Hardaway – before he became Memphis’ coach – to assist the family’s move to Memphis from Nashville in the summer of 2017.

Wiseman, a 7-1 center, was not aware of the transaction. But the NCAA decided Hardaway should be considered a booster, thereby making the transaction illegal.

Instead of acting in compliance with the decision, the Tigers not only dressed Wiseman for Friday’s game against Illinois-Chicago, they played him. They did so after a local judge intervened and froze the ruling. Wiseman scored 17 points with nine rebounds in a big win.

The NCAA did not react kindly to Memphis’ defiance. In a statement, it basically told the program to expect the worst.

“The University of Memphis was notified that James Wiseman is likely ineligible. The university chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are eligible to play.”

The decision to play Wiseman was obviously made a level far beyond Hardaway and the athletic department, so someone at Memphis must believe it can win an appeal of the NCAA’s decision. That’s probably because the NCAA had originally declared Wiseman eligible in the spring – until it uncovered receipts specific to the moving expenses.

“The University is currently working with the NCAA staff to restore his playing status, and we are hopeful for a speedy resolution to the matter,” the school said in a statement.

There will be a hearing on Nov. 18 addressing Wiseman’s request for a temporary injunction which would prevent the NCAA from penalizing the kid while the legalities play out. If a judge rules in Wiseman’s favor, a trial will be held and his attorney said it could take a while to figure it all out.

Still, this is really dicey for Memphis. If it loses its appeal, the NCAA can really come down hard on it for using an illegible player. The Tigers are taking a risk.

“Particularly given the unique circumstances in this case, we are hopeful for a fair and equitable resolution on James’ eligibility,” Memphis president M. David Rudd said in a statement. “We support James’ right to challenge the NCAA ruling on this matter. The University of Memphis has high standards of ethical conduct for all faculty, staff and students, and we take seriously any allegations or conduct that is not aligned with our mission. We will acknowledge and accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws. The University of Memphis firmly supports James, Coach Hardaway and our men’s basketball program in this matter.”