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College Basketball commentary with Seth Davis

  • 10:23 AM ET  11.19
Renardo Sidney
Renardo Sidney is still waiting on NCAA approval/AP

Stop me if you've heard this before: There has been a significant development in the Renardo Sidney case.

Sidney, of course, is the 6-foot-10 man-child of a freshman who is currently enrolled at Mississippi State but has not yet been certified to play. That's because the NCAA is investigating claims that Sidney and his family lived well beyond their means while residing in southern California and therefore may have received improper financial assistance. After months of attempting to extract information from Sidney, his family and their attorney, the NCAA officially changed the status of Sidney's case this morning from "not certified due to non-response" to "under review." That does not mean the NCAA is through asking for information, but it is an important acknowledgement that it has enough data to begin officially assessing Sidney's case.

"The change basically centers on the fact that we have received some of the documentation that we have requested. Not all of it, but some of it," NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said. "We're going to try to get this thing resolved as quickly as we can…. If we can make a determination based on what we have then we will. If we can't, then we won't."

The information that Sidney's attorney, Don Jackson, gave to the NCAA was in response to a memo the NCAA sent him last week listing a series of requests. Jackson said that he has given the NCAA everything it asked for in the memo but added, "Anything that was not provided does not exist." Jackson also told me he believes the change in status is nothing more than meaningless semantics. "The bottom line is, these folks have been provided with more than adequate information to make a decision about this young man's status. We can continue to dance around and play these games, but their only purpose here is to drag this thing out."

The uncertainty surrounding the case is just one of many headaches that Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has endured in the last week. On Friday, the Bulldogs, who were ranked 18th in the AP's preseason poll, lost their season opener at home to Rider, 88-74. As if that weren't bad enough, after the game Bulldogs junior forward Kodi Augustus, who started the game but only played 15 minutes, complained about his lack of playing time and ripped Stansbury to the media. Said Augustus, "He's the coach, but I talked to my dad and he said we got out-coached."

Stansbury told me he wasn't overly angry with Augustus when he learned of his remarks from the media. "Some people are more mature than other people. He's not the first kid who ever said things out of anger," he said. Stansbury was prepared to bring the hammer down on Augustus at a team meeting the following afternoon, but before the meeting Augustus came to Stansbury's office to apologize.

"He was sincerely remorseful. He was literally about to cry," Stansbury said. "I told him you lost respect from everybody – players, coaches, fans – because of your selfish actions, and there's repurcussions." Stansbury told Augustus he was going to suspend him for two games, but the penalty would have been more severe had Augustus not come to the coach's office. "He didn't want to go into that meeting without talking to me, I promise you," Stansbury said.

When I asked Stansbury if he had talked with Augustus's father about why he told his son the team had been out-coached, he laughed. "I don't worry about that. What am I going to say?"

Without Augustus the next two games, Mississippi State's already-thin bench will be even thinner. This team, which began the season with such promise, has been decimated by injuries and suspensions, including a nine-game suspension being served by 7-2 freshman center John Riek for receiving improper benefits while attempting to enter the NBA draft. Stansbury basically only had two players available off the bench against Rider, and now one of them will have to start while Augustus sits out the next two games. "I'm not making any excuses because Rider is a good team, but I couldn't sub much and it absolutely wore us out," Stansbury said. "We're just kind of put together with duct tape right now, but it is what it is. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you."

As for Sidney's case, the back-and-forth between Jackson and the NCAA has grown tiresome, and there is still no end in sight. Jackson can give chapter and verse citing reams of paperwork he has handed over, yet in the NCAA's view he has still fallen short. "He has given us some documentation that we have requested and a lot of documentation that we haven't," Williams said. "Since we've been requesting this since April, any delay really rests at the feet of Mr. Jackson and his client."

Stansbury, for one, is hoping that the NCAA's decision to change the status of Sidney's case means that things are progressing towards a resolution. "It's got to be closer than it was," Stansbury said. "This has been hard on everyone, especially Sid. We need to move forward one way or another with a decision as soon as we can so we can all move on."

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