Report: Enes Kanter was paid to play

Updated: September 9, 2010, 2:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ISTANBUL -- Kentucky recruit Enes Kanter received more than $100,000 in cash and benefits while he played for a professional team in Turkey, the club's general manager told The New York Times.

Nedim Karakas, the GM for Fenerbahce Ulker, said 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."

The 6-foot-11, 272-pound Kanter is one of the top prospects in Kentucky's highly rated recruiting class.

"The University of Kentucky is working diligently with the NCAA on this matter and we fully support Enes Kanter and his family through this ongoing NCAA review," school spokesman DeWayne Peevy said in an e-mailed statement. "We will have no further comment."

Sources told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that Kentucky was satisfied with information received from Kanter and his father that he didn't receive more than the necessary expenses.

Karakas said the Turkish team provided housing for Kanter and his family for more than three years. It also gave him food and pocket money and paid Kanter more than $6,500 a month in salary during his final season.

The salary could be a major problem in the case if there is proof to show that Kanter received something beyond the necessary expenses, a longtime compliance officer with experience dealing with major NCAA issues, including foreign players, told Katz. Any proof that he had a signed agreement with an adviser would also be an issue since Kanter can't have had any signed agreements.

Kanter
Kanter

If the 18-year-old Kanter is declared ineligible and decides to play in Europe next season, Fenerbahce Ulker would be owed a transfer fee. Both Karakas and club executive Aydin Ors also told the Times they were unhappy with the way Kanter left the team because of their investment in the prospect.

But Karakas said the club's interaction with the NCAA is about telling the truth.

"This is real, and the NCAA's main goal is to protect the amateur side of sports," Karakas said.

Max Ergul, who has advised Kanter, said the center's time with Fenerbahce was similar to a player who went to prep school in the U.S.

"They paid the necessary expenses, like any other kid who goes to prep school and gets the $30- or $40,000 scholarship," Ergul told the Times. "I think that's the truth."

Any argument that Kentucky may make that Kanter's expenses are akin to prep school players receiving tuition would be moot since a scholarship to a prep school and expenses received are not equivalent, sources who have dealt with the NCAA told Katz.

Kanter, who did not sign a contract with the Turkish club, was held out during Kentucky's preseason trip to Canada last month, since the NCAA is examining his eligibility. Kanter remains at Kentucky and can go through individual workouts while his case is pending.

Sandy Bell, Kentucky's associate athletic director in charge of compliance, and a representative of the NCAA's amateurism department may need to go to Istanbul and meet with Karakas if Kanter is to gain eligibility for this season, the compliance officer told Katz.

According to the compliance officer, the burden of proof is on Kentucky to prove Kanter received only actual and necessary expenses after Kanter signed with the Wildcats over Washington last year. Those expenses can be food, travel expenses for practices and competition as well as housing. Where this can get dicey is that Kanter was only 14 at the time he started with the club team, and housing for his family may have to have been included. The NCAA could determine that his family getting rent paid for by a club team could be viewed as him using his skill to gain an advantage for his family.

The NCAA has ruled on the amateur status of Turkish players differently recently. Former NC State player Engin Atsur received a three-game suspension for playing in six games for a club team in Turkey. Last season, West Virginia's Deniz Kilicli was suspended for 20 games for a similar amateurism offense. But that was under a previous rule when there was a two-games-to-one penalty that no longer is applicable. Now the issue deals with expenses more than anything else.

Herb Sendek, who was Atsur's coach at NC State and is now the head coach at Arizona State, said that the school dealt entirely with Atsur's family and didn't get any resistance from a Turkish club team. He said the process was clean and that the Atsurs fully understood the NCAA rules since they had an older son go through the process.

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.