STARKVILLE — Phil Turner started 27 times for Mississippi State’s basketball team two seasons ago and was a key member of the team’s rotation last year off the bench.
So when his departure, revealed Friday, put State one scholarship under the NCAA-mandated limit of 13, there was a logical question: Do the Bulldogs have plans to fill the open spot?
Many eyes went in the direction of point guard Dee Bost, who is asking the NCAA to reinstate his eligibility after he remained in the NBA Draft past the May 8 deadline.
Bost just completed his sophomore season and is taking summer classes.
“We have not formally asked for that to move forward but we are in the process,” said Bracky Brett, State’s associate athletic director for compliance. “There is a process of gathering documentation and doing interviews of everybody involved and that’s what we’re in the process of doing that right now.”
Brett said he was close to finishing those tasks.
He hopes to have an answer from the NCAA’s student-athlete reinstatement staff by the start of the fall semester. That way, Bost and the school can move on regardless of the answer.
Bost’s case is expected to hinge around not knowing that he couldn’t withdraw and retain his eligibility. This was the first year the NCAA made the NBA Draft deadline a drop-dead one. In previous years, players could remain in the draft and return to school if they went undrafted and had no dealings with an agent.
Bost advanced this notion with a Monday tweet that came from a Twitter account associated with him.
“On top of my game like never before I made a mistake didn’t get the right info now wishing that everything goes through,” Bost wrote.
But State’s own diligence and its case to the NCAA is much more complicated than that. The school is looking to determine what Bost did or didn’t know in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline with concern about possible dealings with agents or other potential impermissible benefits.
“I think we’ll just have to sit back at this point,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “… Only thing I know is, it’s a first-time rule, first time it’s happening. We hope there’s some leniency.”
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said last week that he’s in Bost’s corner.
“First year of the rule, let him back in,” Bilas said. “If it’s a legitimate mistake, I don’t see why the kid should be punished for it. … I don’t have any problem with the kid. He made a mistake. I don’t think people will be making it in the future when they get used to the rule.”
The Bost question was emboldened by Friday’s news of Turner’s departure – and the pointed comments that came from the former 6-foot-3 utility man.
Turner said Friday that he had been informed in a letter that his scholarship would not be renewed. Stansbury said in a statement released by the school that Turner had made his intentions known that he was leaving the program. Turner denied that.
On Monday, Stansbury wasn’t in the mood to provide answers.
“I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of it,” Stansbury said. “I’ve made a statement, he’s made a statement, we’ll move on with it. There’s two sides. I think everybody’s said something, so again, I’m ready to move on with it.”
Kyle Veazey/The Clarion-Ledger