August 21, 2009 9:09:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado and his family have agreed to pay his way for his senior season of basketball.
By giving up his scholarship, Varnado makes it easier for the Bulldogs to fit 14 players into the 13 scholarship limit mandated by the NCAA.
MSU still awaits NCAA clearance of signees Renardo Sidney and John Riek due to issues involving their amateur status. If one or the other or both aren''t cleared, Varnado could get his scholarship back.
Varnado, who hasn''t spoken publicly about giving up his scholarship, has talked about the potential for this to be a special year for the Bulldogs.
MSU returns all five starters from last season when it became the fourth team in the history of the SEC tournament to win four games in four consecutive days to claim the tournament crown.
The conference tournament title was the third in school history and the first since 2002
MSU lost to Washington in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
MSU assistant coach Robert Kirby said Tuesday at WFCA''s Big Dawg Sponsor Dinner that Varnado''s action goes to show again that he handles himself with class.
"Jarvis has always been a very humble kid," Kirby said. "We have tried hard to get him to become more of a leader for our ballclub to push guys more and be more verbal. He''s more of a quiet leader than a verbal leader. This is one of the things that''s just typical Jarvis."
Varnado, who has led the nation in blocked shots the past two seasons, averaged 12.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in helping the Bulldogs to a 23-13 record and their second-straight NCAA tournament appearance.