The likelihood highly touted Mississippi State freshman forward Renardo Sidney will be on the court in the coming weeks has improved, according to Sidney’s attorney, after the fact-finding portion of the case didn’t produce anything alarming.
Don Jackson, Sidney’s Montgomery, Ala.-based attorney, sent out an e-mail to local and national media Wednesday explaining the details of the NCAA’s fact-finding mission on the Sidney case.
Sidney has missed the Bulldogs’ first 19 games. He has practiced at times with the team and more so of late individually as the Bulldogs (15-4, 3-1 SEC) deal with his absence.
Jackson said the case now moves forward to see if there is a “determination of whether there were violations, and if so, whether there is a basis for a suspension or restitution.” Jackson said the fact-finding committee’s inability to prove the investigator’s claim that there was something awry with a bank loan and living expenses for the Sidney family while living in Los Angeles for Renardo’s final two seasons of high school. The Sidney family had moved to L.A. from Jackson, Miss.
“In light of the findings and the number of games that Renardo has already missed, the likelihood of him being on the floor in the next several days is considerable,’’ Jackson said.
Jackson hasn’t filed a court injunction to get Sidney on the court because Mississippi State has made it clear it wouldn’t play Sidney unless he was cleared to compete in games. With Sidney next to Jarvis Varnado, the Bulldogs would have a potential front line that could compete with some of the top teams in the country. Mississippi State, coming off a loss at Alabama on Saturday, plays at Arkansas Thursday.
Jackson said the fact-finding committee convened Monday in Sidney’s amateurism investigation and filed this blast email:
1. 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.
2. 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 yearlong investigation, no factual findings were made or proposed regarding the Los Angeles residence.
More than adequate documentation was provided to document the family's payment of living expenses.
3. 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.
4. 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.
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.
Currently, the student-athlete has missed nineteen (19) regular-season games and two (2) exhibition games.
Editor Note: Here is an NCAA statement in response to the latest statments by Donald Jackson. "Mr. Jackson is wrong in his description of Renardo Sidney, Jr's., initial-eligibility status, and he continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Amateurism Certification Process. 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."