By Brad Locke / NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Renardo Sidney has been given another chance, but Elgin Bailey will take his chances elsewhere.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said Monday that both players have been reinstated to the team 11 days after brawling with each other in the stands in Hawaii. Bailey, a 6-foot-8 junior forward and a team captain, has opted to leave the program and continue his career at another school.
Sidney, a 6-10 sophomore forward, is immediately eligible to play Saturday in MSU’s SEC opener against Alabama (3 p.m., SEC Network).
“As for this team, it’s time to move on and learn from these mistakes,” Stansbury said in a statement. “Hopefully, by sending Sid and Elgin home following the incident, a strong message was sent that this type of behavior is unacceptable.”
Bailey and Sidney, who were roommates ever since Sidney arrived at MSU in 2009, were caught by ESPNU cameras exchanging blows in the stands of the Stan Sheriff Center prior to a game between Hawaii and Utah in the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 23. The Bulldogs had played earlier in the day, with Sidney scoring 19 points in a win over San Diego.
Both players were suspended indefinitely and sent home immediately. MSU lost the next two games it played without them, to Hawaii and St. Mary’s.
Monday morning, prior to the announcement, Stansbury declined to clarify who started the altercation while speaking on the SEC coaches teleconference.
“I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus or even talk about that details of it,” he said.
It was the second suspension that week for Sidney, who had been benched one game – the Diamond Head opener – for “conduct detrimental to the team.” MSU lost that game to Washington State.
That came just three days after his regular-season debut for MSU, when he scored 12 points in an 88-57 loss to Virginia Tech in the Bahamas.
Sidney, a former McDonald’s All-American, missed his entire freshman season and the first nine games of this season after the NCAA found he’d received impermissible benefits in high school and lied to investigators during the 11-month long amateurism evaluation.
In two games, Sidney has averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.
“I’m very embarrassed about what happened,” Sidney said in a statement. “I know how bad it looked on TV and the embarrassment it caused for everyone associated with Mississippi State. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and I will learn from this mistake, move forward and become a better man.”
Sidney spent much of his down time over the holidays working out at Callaway High School in his hometown of Jackson. Callaway coach Wayne Brent, who coached Sidney his freshman season at Piney Woods, said the two didn’t discuss his suspension but focused on getting Sidney in shape.
“What (NBA people) want to see him do, they want to see him run the floor, rebound, score, show me that you’re in some shape,” Brent said. “You show me you’re in shape, you’re a lottery pick. If you don’t, then your career’s over with.”
Bailey played in 74 games in an injury-plagued career. He was shut down after only four games last season because of a lingering ankle injury. This year, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 boards in 12 games, 11 of them starts.
Bailey did not return a call seeking comment.
Sidney’s return on Saturday will coincide with the 2010-11 debut of junior guard Dee Bost, who sat out the first 14 games because of academic eligibility and an NCAA suspension levied after he belatedly withdrew his name from the NBA Draft last May.
The Bulldogs (8-6) have struggled without Bost. And certainly the Sidney/Bailey saga hasn’t helped.
“It’s like starting over for us again with a new season,” Stansbury said.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.