Kentucky's Enes Kanter ruled ineligible

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The NCAA ruled Kentucky freshman center Enes Kanter permanently ineligible to play for the Wildcats, though the school will appeal the decision.

The NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff decided the 6-foot-11 Kanter received benefits above his actual and necessary expenses while playing for a club basketball team in Turkey. The NCAA defines actual and necessary expenses as those directly necessary for practice and competition on a team.

The NCAA ruled Kanter received over $33,000 above his necessary expenses for the 2008-09 season.

"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," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs.

Kentucky coach John Calipari had no immediate comment, but has stated repeatedly he believed Kanter maintained his amateur status. Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said the school will appeal because of the "uniqueness" surrounding Kanter's situation.

"It is our hope that he will be allowed to continue his academic and athletic career at Kentucky," Barnhart said.

NCAA student-athlete reinstatement guidelines allow Kanter to resume practicing but not compete or travel with the team while the appeal is pending.

Kanter spent last season at Stoneridge Prepatory School in Simi Valley, Calif., before signing with Kentucky, where he was expected to fill a major hole in the middle left by DeMarcus Cousins' departure for the NBA. Now that job will fall to senior Josh Harrelson, junior college transfer Eloy Vargas and freshman forward Terrence Jones.

The Wildcats (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) open the season on Friday against East Tennessee State.

Kanter had become a minor celebrity on campus without so much as taking a shot. He was introduced along with the rest of the team during Big Blue Madness, walking through clouds of smoke and donning a black hat like professional wrestler "The Undertaker."

Fans took up a "Free Enes" movement that included T-shirts and signs posted everywhere from Fenway Park to the U.S. Capitol.