By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
It wasn’t the ending Renardo Sidney was looking for, but his nearly year-long battle with the NCAA came to an official close on Tuesday.
The Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee denied Mississippi State’s appeal of the NCAA’s punishment of Sidney, which consisted of losing a year of eligibility, sitting out the first nine games of next season, and repaying the dollar value of improper benefits he received.
MSU did not appeal the repayment punishment. In addition to the improper benefits finding, the NCAA said Sidney was guilty of unethical conduct for lying to investigators.
The school only appealed the suspension and did not appeal the $11,800 financial penalty, money the NCAA says Sidney received because of his future earning potential.
“It was quite apparent at the outset of this investigation that the Eligibility Center’s primary focus was to impose a suspension upon this youngster (either de facto or based upon violations of NCAA legislation),” Don Jackson, the Sidneys’ attorney, said in a text message. “When it became clear that there was no factual basis to establish violations of amateurism legislation, the focus shifted to finding a basis to justify this investigation (at any cost). Today’s findings were confirmation of that goal.”
Sidney, a 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American originally from Jackson, signed with MSU out of Fairfax Senior High in Los Angeles last spring, but the NCAA began probing his family’s finances after an L.A. Times story raised questions about their living arrangements.
The NCAA never found evidence of the family receiving improper help for their rent on expensive homes in the L.A. area. But he sat out the 2009-10 season as the NCAA’s amateurism evaluation dragged on.
“After the initial ruling from the NCAA, we felt that we were on solid ground for an appeal,” MSU athletics director Greg Byrne said. “We’re obviously disappointed with the outcome. From the beginning we believed and continue to believe Renardo deserves to be a student-athlete at Mississippi State.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.