Sidney’s eligibility case shifts to Clearinghouse in advance of meeting

The eligibility case of Mississippi State basketball signee Renardo Sidney has taken another turn.
The NCAA has moved the case from its Agents, Amateurism and Gambling Activities division to the Amateurism Certification Process Team at the Eligibility Center, a.k.a. the NCAA Clearinghouse.
The reason: A policy change, effective July 1.
Sidney family attorney Donald Jackson said he received notice of the change Thursday. The NCAA and the Sidneys are scheduled to meet at Jackson’s Montgomery, Ala., offices for two days of interviews.
A new “point person,” Alex Hammond, replaces Angie Cretors as lead investigator. MSU representatives will also be present at the interviews.
Jackson said he thinks the NCAA changed course to avoid filling a documentation request he made via the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. He wants all the notes and documents the NCAA possesses relating to its amateurism evaluation of Sidney.
“I believe their transferring it to the eligibility center is an effort to avoid production of that information,” Jackson said.
The Clearinghouse is under the umbrella of the NCAA, but as Jackson puts it, “They’re not, quote, a division of the NCAA.”
In an e-mail to the Journal, NCAA spokesman Bob Williams denied Jackson’s claim.
“The transfer of this case had absolutely nothing to do with Renardo Sidney or Donald Jackson,” Williams wrote. “The NCAA changed its policy so that all preferential treatment cases involving prospective student athletes would be handled by the NCAA Eligibility Center. That policy took effect July 1 and was made to streamline the initial eligibility process.”
In charge of the eligibility center’s “amateurism review component” is Bill Saum, former director of the Agents, Amateurism and Gambling Activities division. He and Jackson have clashed during several high-profile eligibility cases.
Hammond has already interviewed at least one person, Jackson said – Wayne Brent, head coach at Piney Woods in Jackson when Sidney was a freshman but was ineligible to compete due to residency issues.
In the interview, which took place Friday, Hammond insinuated to Brent that if not for a Los Angeles Times story examining possible financial improprieties in Sidney’s recruitment by Southern California, he would’ve been cleared already.
In the story, former shoe rep Sonny Vaccaro was said to have bankrolled the Sidneys’ move from Jackson to L.A. in 2006. Vaccaro has since denied telling that to the Times.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

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