Sidney’s attorney hopeful

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Renardo Sidney could be cleared to play basketball for Mississippi State by the end of the week.
Or not.
While the NCAA’s Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee has issued a final statement of facts regarding the amateurism evaluation of the 6-foot-10 freshman, it’s not entirely clear how much closer that has brought all parties involved to a final resolution.
Donald Jackson, attorney for Sidney and his family, claimed Wednesday that no evidence of a major violation was found by the NCAA and that Sidney could be on the floor for the Bulldogs very soon.
“Quite possibly within the next two to three days,” Jackson told the Daily Journal. “(Today) I think will be a huge leap. I think that’s very realistic.”
The reason for his optimism? He said the statement of facts contains nothing of great concern – MSU did not appeal any of the findings – and at worst, an interpretive staff might deem a couple of minor violations were committed. That would delay the certification process by “a day or so,” he said.
“Does that mean that he’ll be cleared tomorrow, if they find no violations? Quite possibly, he could be,” he added.
However, the NCAA issued a statement Wednesday afternoon – after Jackson had sent an e-mail and spoken with different media outlets – admonishing Jackson and saying he “is wrong in his description of Renardo Sidney Jr’s. initial-eligibility status, and he continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Amateurism Certification Process.”
The statement also said that “it is premature to speculate on a time frame and an ultimate outcome.”
The Fact-Finding Committee met Monday and issued the revised statement of facts on Tuesday.

The findings
In his e-mail to reporters Wednesday morning, Jackson outlined the “significant findings” in the statement of facts. Among them, according to Jackson:
- It could not be established that a family loan was granted due to Sidney’s “payback potential.” Whenever he enters the NBA Draft, he should be a lottery pick.
- There was no evidence found of financial improprieties concerning the Sidneys’ living expenses. A big question centered around their ability to afford expensive homes in the Los Angeles area, and “more than adequate documentation was provided to document the family’s payment of living expenses.”
No mention of the housing issue was mentioned in the statement of facts, Jackson said.
- The committee did agree that Sidney received “excess” Reebok gear and that a family friend assisted with the costs of unofficial visits to two schools. Jackson said the family friend was repaid.
Sidney’s father, Renardo Sr., was at one time employed by Reebok as a “consultant,” but Jackson said the NCAA found no violations connected to that job.
“Other ‘factual issues’ were either determined to have been beyond the scope of the committee’s authority or no findings were issued,” Jackson said in the e-mail.
MSU officials declined comment Wednesday.

Long time coming
The investigation, which began more than eight months ago, has kept Sidney sidelined for the Bulldogs’ first 19 games. He’s academically eligible and has been working with the team, although he’s been doing only individual workouts lately.
The Eligibility Center first issued its statement of facts on Jan. 8, and MSU responded to it a week later. After the NCAA responded to that, the case went before the Fact-Finding Committee.

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