By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi State is “incredibly disappointed” with another lengthy suspension of a basketball player.
The NCAA has ruled that Kristers Zeidaks, a 6-foot-8 transfer, must sit out all of the 2011-12 season plus the first 11 games of the following season – a minimum of 42 games. The reason: He signed a contract with a professional club team in his home country of Latvia.
Zeidaks, a 21-year-old sophomore forward, was never compensated for his play, but NCAA rules say that amateurs are not allowed to play alongside professionals, with very few exceptions. MSU has appealed the ruling, which an NCAA spokesman said has been upheld by the Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatment.
“We are incredibly disappointed by the NCAA’s ruling regarding Kris,” athletics director Scott Stricklin said.
He added that the school has not seen a report of the appeal committee’s decision, and no further comment will be made until MSU has received the report, “and had the opportunity to review with our compliance staff and outside counsel.”
Head coach Rick Stansbury did not return a call seeking comment.
NCAA spokesman Christopher Radford said Zeidaks played for the pro club between 2008-10, and that “the circumstances of this case do not fall under the parameters of the new rules governing competition with professionals and contracts with professional teams that became effective August 2010.”
The current NCAA rulebook says that “an individual shall not be eligible for intercollegiate athletics in a sport if the individual ever competed for a professional team in that sport.”
Stansbury signed Zeidaks in late July, not long after the departure of 7-footer John Riek. Zeidaks was expected to contribute this season after what MSU expected would be a suspension of just a few games.
This suspension is longer – by two games – than the one handed down to Renardo Sidney, the junior forward who was docked for receiving impermissible benefits and lying to the NCAA during its investigation. Sidney finally got to play for State in December of last year and is now a junior.
Like Sidney, Zeidaks will lose a year of eligibility, so he’ll be a junior when he’s finally eligible to play.