|Friday, February 28
NCAA examining Stone's ties to amateur program
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville center Marvin Stone practiced Friday, but the senior's status for the rest of the season remained tenuous while the NCAA examined his ties to an amateur program.
The NCAA has been asking Stone about benefits he received through Mark Komara, a Huntsville, Ala., businessman who also runs an AAU team there, said Donald Jackson, a lawyer retained by Stone's family.
Jackson said the NCAA has been pressuring Louisville (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) to suspend Stone, but the school has resisted.
Calls to the NCAA were referred to Laronica Conway, the interim associate director of media relations. She did not immediately return a message left Friday by The Associated Press.
The Cardinals (19-5, 9-4 Conference USA) play East Carolina (12-13, 3-11) on Saturday. Stone was listed as a projected starter, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Friday he wasn't sure Stone would play.
"I thought, after 29 years, I've seen it all, but I haven't,'' Pitino said. "What's going to happen, I don't know. I'm totally naive and uneducated to all of these things.''
Pitino said after Thursday's 78-73 loss to Marquette that he was "extremely disappointed'' in the NCAA's decision to question Stone so close to the end of his career.
Pitino said he spoke to Komara not long after Stone transferred from Kentucky, where he played from 1999-01.
"Although I don't know him well, he thanked me and really appreciated what I was trying to do for Marvin and said, 'He's like my family for me, so I want to thank you,''' Pitino said, referring to Komara. "That's probably the longest conversation I've had with this gentleman.''
Stone had six points and five rebounds in Thursday's loss, Louisville's fourth in five games. Stone wouldn't say much about the situation after the game -- only that it's been a distraction.
"It's been hard on me,'' he said. "I can't really speak about it.''