August 18, 2009 9:21:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State men''s basketball signee Renardo Sidney is one step closer to being able to get on the court with the Bulldogs.
The NCAA Eligibility Center on Monday cleared Sidney academically, which allowed him to enroll in fall classes.
Although the issues with his status as an amateur remain unresolved, Sidney can participate in preseason individual and conditioning workouts with the team.
MSU men''s basketball coach Rick Stansbury said in a statement released by the school that he was pleased to get Sidney academically admitted to the school and is eager to get Sidney''s status as an amateur resolved.
MSU signed Sidney in April after he averaged 23.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocked shots as a senior at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles.
Donald Jackson, Sidney''s attorney, said last week his client was in Mississippi awaiting news about his academic status and that he was happy this part of the process is over.
"This was a significant first step," Jackson said. "Notwithstanding the fact that the academic review was overly intrusive and, in effect, required the prospective student-athlete to defend grades that were awarded to him by certified teachers at state sanctioned secondary schools, we are satisfied with the outcome. The tactics were burdensome and unnecessary."
MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne is satisfied with the school''s role in the process.
He said the athletic department will continue to cooperate with the NCAA to resolve the issue of Sidney''s status as an amateur.
"As we have said from the beginning, Mississippi State has pledged to do its due diligence and provide full cooperation from all parties, while continuing to keep in mind our first priority is to protect the integrity of our university," Byrne said.
The major question concerning Sidney''s amateur status appears to center around how his family paid rent for its reported $1.2 million home in Los Angeles.
Jackson has consistently said there has been no proof of any violation by Sidney and remains confident he''ll also clear the amateurism hurdle in due time.
He continues to be concerned with how the NCAA has investigated the case.
"The tactics that have been utilized by the Eligibility Center in this evaluation (of amateurism) have been overly intrusive and in violation of federal and state law," Jackson said. "Notwithstanding their attempted heavy-handed approach, which has included attempted ambush style, after-hours "interviews" of third parties and an attempt to exclude me from these interviews, the bottom line is this family and the prospective student-athlete have been in strict compliance with NCAA bylaws."