Byrne Says State To Appeal Sidney Penalties

Now that the NCAA's ruling has been issued, both Mississippi State and Renardo Sidney know how to proceed on the prep All-American's college basketball future. And according to director of athletics Greg Byrne, the next step is appeal part of the penalties.

"From the beginning, Dr. (Mark) Keenum gave us the charge to provide every resource available to help Renardo gain his eligibility, while maintaining the integrity of the University" Byrne said Friday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. "We felt from the beginning Renardo deserves the opportunity to be both a student and an athlete at Mississippi State, and this is still our belief today."

The A.D. had been in a meeting with Mrs. Patricia Sidney and basketball coach Rick Stansbury after receipt of the NCAA ruling on Renardo Sidney's status. In their statement to the University, the governing body has assessed a two-part penalty. First, that based on unethical conduct Sidney has lost one year of athletic eligibility, which is this current season; and must now still sit out an additional 30% of the 2010-11 season due to receiving impermissible benefits prior to his college recruitment.

Secondly, a penalty of $11,800 must be repaid—to the NCAA—for as the statement says ‘benefits received from preferential treatment.'

Neither Mississippi State University nor the basketball program were in any way involved with the benefits, all of which came prior to his signing with MSU last April. But the University has supported Sidney's efforts to obtain college eligibility, and now Byrne says MSU will appeal part of the penalties. Specifically, the 30%-games penalty added to the expected financial fines and loss of the freshman season. Sidney's 2009-10 year will not be allowed to count as a redshirt year, leaving his three varsity seasons—rather, 70% of one and two complete years—to play at Mississippi State.

"Sid is a great kid and I'm glad we finally have a decision," Stansbury said through a prepared statement. "Now we can move forward with the appeal process."

This would be the third time in a decade that a Bulldog had to sit 30% of a season for improper benefits. Then-junior Mario Austin missed that much of the 2002-03 regular season after flirtation with early-entry in the NBA draft; and just this past year freshman John Riek also served a 30% suspension in the first months of the schedule.

Even if State's appeal should fail there can be no additional penalties assessed now that the ruling has been issued. The ruling came from the academic and membership affairs staff. In their release, the NCAA pointed out that ‘the university declared the student-athlete ineligible for violations of NCAA ethical conduct and preferential treatment rules. The university found that the student-athlete violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he provided false or misleading information throughout the eligibility process.

‘He and his family benefited by using funds from a non-profit organization for personal gain, according to the facts presented by the university. These funds would not have been available were it not for the student-athlete's athletics skills and reputation. Preferential treatment in this case also included hotel accommodations and other travel expenses, as well as free athletic gear and training.'

"Our members have made it crystal clear that student-athletes who receive impermissible benefits, either directly or indirectly, and who lie to the NCAA must be held accountable," stated Kevin Lennon, vice-president for academic and membership affairs. "This case is about more than a single student-athlete. One of our core responsibilities is to ensure a level playing field for all student-athletes and their teams."

The NCAA's statement went on to say that repeated requests for specific information related to Sidney's eligibility began in April 2009, but he and his attorney (Montgomery, Ala.-based Donald Jackson, who had worked with state on the Mario Austin case) ‘failed to promptly and accurately reply to this information, which caused multiple delays in reaching a resolution to the case.'

MSU's appeal will be made to the NCAA's Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee, which is comprised of representatives of member colleges, universities, and conferences. This committee which does not work for the NCAA can reduce or even remove all conditions.

Sidney has not been made available to media for comment on this or any aspect of his Mississippi State team experience since enrolling.

Gene's Page Top Stories