While the NCAA Eligibility Center continues to review the case of Enes Kanter, whose reception of up to $150,000 in benefits from Turkish club Fenerbahçe Ülker may make him ineligible to play for the University of Kentucky in the 2010-11, team coach John Calipari offered a public show of support Thursday night.
Calipari opined to the Lexington Herald-Reader and other local media prior to the annual University of Kentucky Basketball Tip-Off Dinner that “in my mind, [Kanter]’s an amateur. He never signed anything. How they rule that thing, you have no idea. I don’t anyway.” The coach went on to add that Kanter “is a great kid. He’s doing well in school.”
Fenerbahçe Ülker is extremely interested in the outcome of the NCAA’s ruling – the club supplied the documents showing Kanter had received pay to the organization – as they stand to receive either Kanter on-court for another season, compensation when another professional club signs him, or nothing should the Turk land with Kentucky after all.
Noted Calipari ruefully, “One side wants him back. There’s four million reasons they want him back.”
Kanter is nowhere near the first recruiting controversy Kentucky has faced in the past couple of seasons. The Wildcats had an eligibility tussle over John Wall going into last season and the school currently awaits the results of a Birmingham City Schools investigation into the *high school* eligibility of Eric Bledsoe. Though Bledsoe has advanced into the NBA, Kentucky would have to forfeit 35 victories from the 2009-10 season in the historical record.