Enes Kanter is a Turkish national who was rated one of the top men’s basketball recruits in the country and he chose to join Coach Calipari at the University of Kentucky. Prior to arriving in the United States, Enes competed for Fenerbache, a Turkish club team, from 2006 to 2009. Enes primarily competed for the under-18 junior team, but did compete on the club’s senior team during the 2008-2009 season. According to the information reported by multiple media outlets and the NCAA, Enes received $33,033.00 more than his reasonable and necessary expenses.
NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.1 allows a student-athlete to compete on a professional team prior to enrollment as long as he does not receive more than actual and necessary expenses to participate on the team. The NCAA defines actual and necessary expenses (NCAA Bylaw 12.02.4) as meals directly tied to competition; lodging directly tied to competition; apparel, equipment, and supplies; coaching and instructions; health/medical insurance; transportation; medical treatment and physical therapy; facility usage; entry fees; and other reasonable expenses. As a result of Enes’ receipt of amounts above actual and necessary expenses, he was unable to take advantage of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52.1 and its exception to professional status. The reinstatement staff applied a factor test, which included 1) the nature and seriousness of the violation; 2) any impermissible benefits received; 3) the student-athlete’s level of responsibility; 4) any mitigating factors presented by the university; 5) applicable NCAA guidelines; and 6) relevant case precedent. In applying the factor test, the reinstatement staff determined that Enes would not be eligible to compete in NCAA athletics. Kevin Lennon, NCAA Vice President of Academic and Membership Affairs, was quoted as saying “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.” The University of Kentucky has pledged to appeal the decision to the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee for final review.
This scenario is often presented in cases where the student-athlete participates in athletics in a foreign country. Often times, the prospective student-athlete will indicate that he or she has only participated as an amateur, which may be true in accordance with his/her definition of amateurism and his/her country’s definition of amateurism. The NCAA defines amateurism differently, which leads to confusion and, ultimately, a request for reinstatement. If the benefits received are negligible, then reinstatement is likely. However, if the amount is a higher dollar figure, as was the case with Enes, eligibility will likely be found against the student-athlete which will likely lead to a disappointed student-athlete and institution.