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Tuesday, August 21
Updated: August 22, 10:00 AM ET
Bulldogs dismiss their starting point guard




Fresno State's starting point guard Tito Maddox -- a top-50 preseason Wooden Award candidate -- was dismissed from the team Tuesday for accepting a plane ticket to El Paso, Texas, and a pair of Los Angeles Lakers tickets from an agent in the spring, the second time in two years he has accepted gifts from an agent.

Tito Maddox
Tito Maddox's dealings with agents led to his dismissal from Fresno State.

Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian confirmed the exact extra benefits to ESPN.com on Tuesday night, after interim athletics director Scott Johnson announced earlier in the day that Maddox had been released from the program.

Tarkanian told ESPN.com that Maddox accepted the gifts after he had declared for the NBA draft in May. Maddox then sent a letter in to the NBA requesting that his name be taken out of consideration for the draft. It was, and Maddox wasn't on the eligible early entry underclassmen draft list on June 20.

Tarkanian said Maddox was told to repay the cost of the plane and game tickets, but the player never followed through.

The agents in question were Ken and Phil Delpit out of Las Vegas, who work for Franchise Sports America. Even though Maddox had said he wouldn't stay in the draft, the Delpits were at the Desert Classic NBA draft camp in Tempe, Ariz., in May trying to drum up interest for Maddox with NBA scouts. The Delpits told ESPN.com at the time that they would represent Maddox.

"Tito volunteered all this information," Tarkanian said. "Agents got in his ear."

Johnson said in a release Tuesday, "It's regrettable that this action had to be taken, but this is the second time there has been a problem related to receiving benefits from sports agents. This is a clear violation of the NCAA rules and the university's student athlete code of conduct."

Maddox, who was ineligible as a true freshman, had to sit the first eight games of last season because he had accepted a plane ticket to Las Vegas from an agent. Then-USC senior Jeff Trepagnier was forced to sit games for the same offense.

The 6-foot-4 Maddox was the 2001 WAC freshman of the year, leading the league in assists and ranking fourth nationally at eight a game. He averaged 13.5 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But Maddox's production went down during the WAC season as teams started to back off him and force him to shoot from the outside. Maddox shot only 28.6 percent on 3-pointers.

Tarkanian distanced himself from Maddox when he flirted with declaring for the draft.

The Bulldogs signed 6-1 Westark (Ark.) CC guard Chris Sandy to be Maddox's backup this coming season. Sandy will now become the starting point guard on a team that is the favorite to win the WAC again and was a potential preseason top-25 team with another Wooden Award candidate, center Melvin Ely, and talented wing Chris Jefferies.

"We're going to be all right," Tarkanian said. "We'll obviously miss him, but we'll still be good. We just don't have a backup point guard, but we're working on one now."

Tarkanian said he thought he was going to get 5-10 Eric Bush from Butler County (Kan.) College when Maddox first declared for the draft. But when Maddox returned to Fresno State, Bush went to UAB.

Tarkanian said he might try guard Travis DeManby at the point, as well.

Maddox's options, meanwhile, are limited. He can't be picked up by an NBA team because he is an underclassmen and didn't go through the NBA draft. If he can't go to the NBA-sponsored eight-team National Basketball Developmental League, which begins with a three-day scouting combine Oct. 27 outside of Atlanta, then he could go to the independent Continental Basketball Association.

He could also go overseas and play and then re-enter the NBA draft in June.

"He now has no school work and no classes to attend," Tarkanian said. "He should go to the developmental league, take 500 jump shots a day, and if he does that then he can be in the NBA in two years."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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