June 10, 2009
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State''s men''s basketball program wasn''t afraid about going after McDonald''s All-American Renardo Sidney as it appeared other schools were.
Despite an on-going process concerning Sidney''s eligibility, Mississippi State officials believe signing him was the right thing to do and are confident he will be on the court in the near future.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury insists recruiting Sidney was in the best interest of the program and the player.
"We''re going to be aggressive in our recruiting while still following SEC and NCAA rules," Stansbury said. "Other SEC schools have followed similar paths in eligibility cases. Every situation is different, but any time a situation arises involving a student-athlete or signee, we will pursue the matter in a thorough and appropriate manner, and expect full cooperation from all parties involved."
The parties in this case are the Sidney family and its attorney Donald Jackson, of Montgomery, Ala., who are putting together information that will be provided to the NCAA and MSU.
MSU Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Bracky Brett is responsible for collecting the information. He said the process has just begun.
The question of Sidney''s eligibility appears to be from his Amateur Athletic Union basketball days, while playing for his father, Sidney, Sr.
In a story in The Los Angeles Times, Sidney Sr. was involved financially with former Reebok employee Sonny Vaccaro, which might have affected Sidney''s eligibility.
After originally committing to Southern Cal, Sidney changed his mind and picked MSU.
MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne said it is important for people to realize the Bulldogs were not late-comers into the Sidney sweepstakes.
"We recruited him early and it looked like he was going to attend school out in California," Byrne said. "When that didn''t work out, we got back on him very late."
There are conflicting reports on why USC backed of Sidney.
Jackson said Sidney ended the recruiting process himself, while an anonymous source told The Los Angeles Times that USC didn''t want to take the risk of attracting NCAA scrutiny because of sketchy issues with his family and camp.
It has been speculated USC was scared away from any potential problem because investigations continue into Reggie Bush, a Heisman Trophy winner in football, and O.J. Mayo, a first-round NBA draft pick.
USC has refused to clarify rumors. Athletic spokesman Tim Tessalone said the school won''t make any comment on its decision to stop recruiting Sidney.
Tim Floyd resigned as the coach at USC on Tuesday. It''s not known if the Sidney situation contributed to Floyd''s decision.
Byrne said any potential snag with Sidney''s eligibility was discussed, but the school decided to move ahead with his signing April 30.
"We looked at all the factors involved and decided it was in the best interest of Mississippi State and Renardo to sign him," Byrne said. "We also made it very clear to fully cooperate so we can make sure Mississippi State is protected long term. We''re going through that process right now.
"We''re looking forward to having Renardo here. We''re going over his eligibility and making sure everything is above board in what''s been done."
Stansbury said he wouldn''t comment on the situation further until a decision was made about Sidney, which might not be until August.
MSU officials hope Sidney, who graduates from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles on June 18, will be cleared to play in time to enroll at MSU for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 17.