NCAA defends Sidney process

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Journal on Wednesday, NCAA spokesman Bob Williams defended his organization’s actions in its evaluation of Mississippi State basketball signee Renardo Sidney’s amateur status.
The NCAA eligibility center is trying to determine if the 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American or his family have done anything to compromise his amateur status.
Sidney’s attorney, Don Jackson, has said several times that the NCAA has no reason to conduct this inquiry because, as he said last month, “they have failed to establish even a whiff of a violation of any type.”
Williams has spoken with the Daily Journal on the matter several times via e-mail, but on Wednesday he consented to a telephone interview.
“This isn’t a debate over innocence or guilt,” Williams said. “We’re trying to determine what the situation is.”
A major sticking point in the process has been Jackson’s refusal to grant the NCAA’s request for Sidney family bank records, as well as tax returns for Sidney’s maternal grandparents from 2006, ’07 and ’08. Those requests were reportedly made in response to a Los Angeles Times story that said the Sidneys were living in a $1.2 million home; the NCAA apparently wants to know how they afforded it.
Williams would not say how much influence, if any, that story had in prompting the investigation, but he’s aware of it.
On July 29, Jackson said the NCAA told him he had 21 days to fulfill the financial requests, or Sidney might be ruled “not certified” for competition. Williams said that would not be a permanent ruling, unless the financial information was never provided.
Williams said the NCAA has not imposed a hard deadline.
“I’m not saying (a violation) has or hasn’t been found,” he said. “All I’m saying is, until we get all of the information that we need to make a determination, his client’s not cleared, period.”
Also at issue is a confidentiality agreement the NCAA requires attorneys to sign if they wish to participate as a third party during NCAA-initiated interviews. Jackson has refused to sign such an agreement, which means unless the interview subject is a client of his, the NCAA does not have to let him attend.
Jackson has maintained that NCAA legislation allows him to be present at any interview pertaining to the Sidney case.
“It’s simply not true,” Williams said.
In response to Williams, Jackson said, “I have many clients around the country. We will look forward to full participation in the process.”
Williams plans to take part in an upcoming interview with the mother of one of Sidney’s former teammates, perhaps as early as today, according to Jackson. She is a client of Jackson’s.
Sidney is still seeking academic clearance so he can enroll at MSU for the fall term, which begins Monday. The last drop-add day is Aug. 24.
Jackson said Wednesday that he hopes the academic clearance will come “in short order.”

Contact Brad Locke at brad.locke@djournal.com or 678-1571.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal