Hoops Freshmen Goodridge, Wise Await Clearance

The fall semester began this morning at Mississippi State, with a couple of premier Bulldog basketball signees awaiting word from the NCAA's clearinghouse on their eligibility.

Center Vernon Goodridge and guard Jeremy Wise have yet to be certified for participation as freshmen by the clearinghouse, according to University officials Thursday morning. "It's all in the clearinghouse's hands," associate A.D. for student services Dr. David Boles reported.

Goodridge is a 6-9 postman from Lutheran Christian Academy in Philadelphia, Pa., and was inked by Coach Rick Stansbury last November. Wise was an April signee, a 6-2 shooting guard from Murrah High School in Jackson.

MSU coaches and officials are frustrated, having expected Goodridge's clearance for some time now as the academic information they have on the Brooklyn, N.Y., native from his high school and prep school years appear to meet the NCAA's standards. The holdup appears to be whether the clearinghouse has been provided by Goodridge's school with all the necessary information, i.e. complete transcripts, test scores, and other documents.

The situation with Wise seems similar, though reporters who followed his high school career believe there is more concern about his meeting the necessary grade average for freshman eligibility. MSU officals do not comment on specific test scores and grades of uncertified recruits.

Not being cleared for the first day of classes is not necessarily a crisis, since new students have a five-class-day window for semester enrollment. This gives them an extra week in effect to have the clearinghouse complete the process.

If not cleared by the second deadline there is still another possible route, particularly for Goodridge who reportedly meets Mississippi State's admission standards. (The clearinghouse only rules on athletic eligibility.)

A freshman can enroll at his own expense as a full-time student; then when ultimately cleared for freshman athletic eligibility he can be put on athletic scholarship. Until then, though, he could not take part in team pre-season workouts as eligible freshman are. Of course as a MSU student he could presumably join the players for informal 'pick-up' games in the Sanderson Center.

However, if he were not to be cleared to play as a freshman, and were enrolled as a full-time student, his five-year competition 'clock' would have started. So there are some risks, though given Goodridge's basketball resume few imagine he would still be playing college ball four years from now anyway.

There was some good news from the compliance office Thursday, as baseball recruit Andy Rice was cleared this week and began classes on schedule. Rice is a transfer outfielder from Itawamba Comm. College, and a 48th-round pick of the New York Yankees in the June draft. He, like all other Diamond Dog signees, chose to come to college.

Dawgs' Bite will provide updates on Goodridge and Wise and their enrollment status as available.

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