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NCAA investigation into Sidney's eligibility could be nearing end

 

Adam Minichino

 

The NCAA''s investigation into the eligibility of Mississippi State freshman forward Renardo Sidney could be nearing an end. 

 

On Wednesday, MSU received a revised and final statement of facts about the Sidney case from the NCAA''s Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee. The committee met Monday to review the NCAA''s first statement of facts, MSU''s response to the statement, and the NCAA''s reply to MSU. 

 

Don Jackson, the attorney for Sidney and his family, issued a statement to local media members Wednesday morning outlining multiple issues and potential hurdles to be cleared. 

 

The NCAA then issued a statement saying Jackson was "wrong in his description of Sidney Jr.''s initial-eligibility status, and he continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Amateurism Certification Process." 

 

Jackson''s statement includes four points. The first states "there was no evidence to establish that a family loan was based upon the student-athlete''s athletic ability or ''payback'' potential as the Eligibility Center staff alleged." 

 

The second point states "the committee made NO findings relative to the family''s living expenses during the term of their stay in California. Notably. The ACP Staff did not include any reference to the allegedly inappropriate living arrangement in their proposed Statement of Facts. Despite a nearly year long investigation, no factual findings were made or proposed regarding the Los Angeles residence." 

 

Jackson wrote "more than adequate documentation was provided to document the family''s payment of living expenses." 

 

His third point says "the ACP Staff alleged and the committee agreed that the student athlete received excess Reebok gear and that a family friend assisted with the costs of unofficial visits to two schools. The family friend was repaid; no factual finding was made on the repayment of the loan." 

 

His final point says "no factual finding was made and the ACP staff did not propose any specific facts relative to the propriety of the student-athlete''s father''s employment with Reebok. The reality of the matter is that his employment with Reebok does not (in any way) point toward a violation of any type." 

 

Jackson closed the letter by saying "other ''factual issues'' were either determined to have been beyond the scope of the committee''s authority or no findings were issued. In an interesting and unprecedented twist, the ACP Staff attempted to impose an unethical conduct charge upon the family of the student-athlete maintaining that 10.1 applied to their interview testimony. This represents an extraordinary stretch as 10.1 has always been interpreted to apply to athletic department staff and student-athletes.....never family members. This was a clear effort to manufacture a violation." 

 

The NCAA statement from spokesperson Stacey Osburn goes on to say, "The NCAA Division I Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee has only determined what facts will now be analyzed to decide if violations of NCAA legislation have occurred, and if so, what penalties should be assessed. This matter will not be concluded until such final determinations have been made. At this point, it is premature to speculate on a timeframe and an ultimate outcome. However, it is correct to say had Mr. Jackson promptly and accurately replied in full to the NCAA''s repeated requests for specific information beginning in April 2009 the process would be much further along."

 

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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