On the heels of reports that Reggie Bush may get his Heisman trophy stripped because he accepted extra benefits, another athlete is in the headlines with allegeded NCAA rules violations. Pete Thamel of the New York Times is reporting that Kentucky commit Enes Kanter is accused of accepting over $100,000 dollars since the age of 14, to play professionally in Turkey.
Nedem Karakas, General Manager of Turkish basketball club Fenerbache Ulker, told the paper that the team has handed over banking and housing records to the NCAA, which is reviewing Kanter’s amateur status.
“The NCAA asked officially what we paid,” he told the newspaper. “We took from the bank what we paid. Normally, we send all the documents that we have. They asked for more things. They asked for the rent, what we paid.” said Karakas
Potentially damning revelations to a player whose eligibility was already under review by the NCAA. Kanter 18, is talented 6’11 275lb beast with NBA potential. Many thought he’d be one and done at Kentucky, but the NY Times report will jeopardize his N.C.A.A. eligibility if Fenerbache produces bank, and housing records showing they provided extreme cases of extra benefits to Kanter.
Or could it?……..
I have major reservations regarding the motives behind Fenerbahce releasing this information and working in conjunction with the N.C.A.A. Fenerbache Ulker are like most clubs in Europe, that commit substantial financial resources into the development and cultivation of young talent for their professional league and national team.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are invested in the housing, education, training and development of these players. Because these players are youth level, they can’t sign an official FIBA contract until they are 18 years old. Until then they aren’t contractually bound to a specific club, but are loyal based on their word and bond as well as the club’s.
This unofficial arrangement can give a club like Fenerbahce the flexibility to doctor records and fabricate documents concerning the player. I played professionally in Turkey and have had it done to me.
Kanter is considered by many, to be the best 18-year old prospect in the world. He is a blue-chip stock, one that would return serious dividends. Homegrown talents like Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova spent a few seasons in the Turkish 1st Division, a rite of passage for the countries most respected basketball stars.
Kanter would be circumventing this process, and Fenerbahce losing a dominant presence in the middle and a financial bargaining chip when the NBA came calling. I don’t agree with Fenerbahce, but I can’t blame them for being salty.
Like most European clubs, Fenerbahce Ulker feels like they own their players, and homegrown talent defection is a blow to their basketball business, as well as a stab at their personal and national pride. Kanter’s controversial exit from the team was less than amicable, due in part to the involvement of pseudo agent Max Ergul.
Ergul has been linked to several Turkish players, most recently Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks. Ergul is a mysterious figure in this saga, the Kasier Sose of a Turkish melo-drama. Though officially recognized as Kanter’s advisor, Ergul has been called an agent by Karakas (which Ergul denies) and is directly blamed for Kanter’s exit.
Because Kanter is attending an N.C.A.A. institution, there is no buyout clause so Fenerbahce cannot re-coup their hundred thousand investment. I believe this more than anything else, has ushered them into snitch territory. On the flip side if Kanter is ruled ineligible by the N.C.A.A. and he returns to Europe, Fenerbahce would be in line to receive a buyout from any team that wants to secure his talents.
Another option for Kanter, though not as financially lucrative, would be to play in the D-League. He won’t need a FIBA clearance to play, he will be heavy on the NBA’s radar and there is no buyout clause to pay Fenerbahce. Granted the money is low, but the risk is worth the opportunity. With his talent and skill set, he wouldn’t be there for long.
Fenerbahce has plenty of incentive to cooperate in the NCAA’s multi-national investigation that Interpol would be proud of. The problem is that their cooperation will tarnish the credibility of foreign clubs to American professionals, and because if they turn on their own, imagine how quickly they will turn on a player from the USA?.
It is the theater of the absurd, and I have never heard of a high-level European club, essentially opening their books and providing evidence to the N.C.A.A. What’s next? European clubs opening the books on their American professionals to the Internal Revenue Service?
Fenerbahce must have spent a lot of money on Kanter, and his situation highlights a larger issue in international basketball, the one where clubs have the leverage and essentially hold players hostage, with fear of repercussions for their collegiate and NBA aspirations.
But let’s pretend that Kanter’s intentions are honest, and he simply wants to attend one of the most prestigious basketball institutions in the country. Does it matter? He isn’t officially a professional under FIBA rules and the benefits he received are comparable to those received at US prep schools, which are legal.
If a kid wants to chase the American dream, can you blame him? Year in and year out, Kentucky has been a top flight program under coach John Calipari. Next year’s team is a favorite to win the National Championship, and several of Cal’s players get drafted in the early picks of the NBA Draft.
A no brain-er right? Kanter obviously has no interest being shackled by a Turkish club that will overwork and underpay him, hell he can make more than $6500 a month playing for Calipari at Kentucky.
All jokes aside, the opportunities and exposure that Kentucky will give him, expedite his goal of playing in the NBA one day. A player with aspirations of going to school for an education and playing college basketball should not be denied, especially by unscrupulous club teams who will sink to the lowest of depths to sabotage that dream.
Shame on you Fenerbahce.
The N.C.A.A. is expected to rule on Kanter’s eligibility within 10-14 days. [NYTimes]