December 19, 2011 7:15:00 PM
STARKVILLE - The NCAA has ruled Mississippi State forward Kristers Zeidaks ineligible for the 2011-12 men's basketball season.
The NCAA Eligibility Center confirmed Zeidaks, who originally from Latvia will be suspended for the entire upcoming season and 11 games next season for his participation in a league with and against pro players in his home country.
The MSU compliance office went through a rejected appeal process in late October with the NCAA Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement after the initial ruling was handed out.
According to the official rationale for decision released to The Dispatch by MSU officials Monday, the NCAAA Eligibility Center ruled the three registration forms he signed to play for his Latvian club team, Barons/LMT Riga club, and the $240 he received in necessary compensation expenses were enough to violate NCAA rules on players signing an agreement to play professionally in any capacity.
"NCAA Bylaw 12.1.2-(c) states than an individual will lose amateur status if he or she 'signs a contract or commitment of any kind to play professional athletics," NCAA Associate Director of Academic and Membership Affairs Jennifer Daniels stated in an e-mail.
The basic disagreement between the NCAA Eligibility Center and Mississippi State highlighted in the documentation is a two-pronged argument over the definition of a contract and the amount the 6-foot-8 forward participated against professional players.
MSU (11-1) is ranked 18th in the latest Associated Press poll and will next face Northwestern State Thursday at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
According to the appeal sent to the NCAA Division I Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee, MSU compliance 'respectfully disagrees with the interpretation that registration sheet constitutes an agreement' according to the previous bylaw cited by Daniels. MSU also argued that on the registration form Zeidaks signed with Barons/LMT of the Lativan Basketball League was blank due to not having a contract with the club.
n the evidence acquired by The Dispatch Monday and presented to the NCAA Division 1 Legislation, MSU officials sent a copy of a legal contract between a player and the Barons/LMT club team to signify the difference between the registration forms he signed between 2006-08 and a contract he and his family did not agree to while he played in his home country.
Zeidaks, who took the open scholarship left by the withdrawal of center John Riek from the basketball program earlier in July, represented his country in the Under-20 European Championships last year. In six games, he averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and collecting six steals. His best outing was against Greece, where he totaled 19 points.
The NCAA's ruling on Zeidaks leaves MSU with just six frontcourt players on scholarship and only two of them (junior center Renardo Sidney and junior forward Wendell Lewis) have participated in a regular season game for the Bulldogs program.
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