Lawrence Roberts Questionable for First Few Games

In a story released Saturday by The Clarion-Ledger, Roberts' mother Cynthia Roberts said that Lawrence, who declared for the NBA Draft but eventually withdrew his name, was provided more than $900 in flight and hotel accommodations to attend a private workout for the Trail Blazers in May of this year. She also said that Roberts subsequentially reimbursed the Trail Blazers the entire amount.

Although the NCAA Bylaws allow a player to attend a tryout, the professional team cannot provide funds to cover any expenses. If they do, then the payment is considered impermissible benefits according to Student-Athlete Reinstatement Guidelines' Bylaw "Specifically, the guidelines advise that when an extra benefit exceeding $100 is received as a result of a student-athlete acting independently or a representative of an institution's athletics interests is involved in the provision of the extra benefit, withholding from competition may be warranted, in addition to repayment."

Mississippi State, which discovered the violation in July, self-reported the incident to the NCAA and immediately declared Roberts ineligible, as is required by NCAA Bylaw 14.11.1.

According to Bylaw, the benefits and their possible penalties range from 10% to 30%, depending on the amount of impermissible benefit. "The adopted guidelines for violations involving student-athletes: value of benefit ranges from $100 to $299, 10 percent withholding condition and repayment; $300 to $500, 20 percent withholding condition and repayment; and beyond $501, a minimum of 30 percent withholding condition and repayment."

Potentially, because the amount of impermissible benefits Roberts received were in excess of $701, he could be held out for up to eight games (30% of the regular season) at the beginning of the season. However, the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee has the option of handing down a lessor penalty that could be as little as three games.

According to The Clarion-Ledger article, the committee could hand the decision down as early as next week.

Mississippi State has, according to the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee's Policies and Procedures, "an opportunity to appeal the decision by teleconference to the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by (, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders sports network. You can contact him by email at

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