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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Attorney: NCAA wants to postpone Sidney's amateurism case meeting

Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss. The NCAA has asked for a delay of its scheduled meeting with Mississippi State signee Renardo Sidney and his family.

Sidney attorney Don Jackson said Thursday that could put his client's amateurism case behind schedule and force Sidney to miss games next season if he is eventually cleared.

"My problem with this is all of these cases have a tendency to drag," Jackson said.

The NCAA has requested several documents as part of an investigation into whether Sidney's family received improper benefits while the Jackson native lived in Los Angeles. Sidney could be suspended or barred from playing college ball if the NCAA determines the family broke amateurism rules.

Jackson said the family is already in Jackson and is prepared to meet with the NCAA at his Montgomery, Ala., office on July 1. A delay would be a hardship, he said.

While the NCAA doesn't comment on ongoing investigations, Jackson said officials are seeking financial and other records from the family after a report in the Los Angeles Times partly based on anonymous sources.

The NCAA wants to see records concerning leases of reportedly expensive homes the Sidney's lived in and records relating to a club basketball team that was funded by a shoe company sponsorship.

Jackson said he expects to have the paperwork to the NCAA by late this week or early next, and in time for the meeting.

"We are going to give them all the information they need," Jackson said. "In fact, we're giving them more than they requested. But there's still a zone of privacy in these cases and they're not going to infringe on this family's privacy."

That flow of information doesn't go both ways, though, and Jackson thinks his request for records in the case may have derailed the meeting.

Jackson recently asked the NCAA to provide what evidence it has in the case, and got no response from officials until they asked to postpone the meeting. He believes the NCAA has long hidden behind the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to shield the public and media from records they have a right to.

The issue of secrecy around the NCAA is gaining attention. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum recently told the NCAA it would face criminal sanctions under state law if it did not release a letter to The Associated Press and other media, who sued for records about the NCAA's investigation into a Florida State cheating scandal.

The NCAA has asserted it is a private agency that's exempt from such laws.

Jackson said he asked the NCAA "to provide all documents, e-mails, video tapes, audio tapes that they have regarding this young man."

Sidney, a 6-foot-10 power forward who originally committed to Southern Cal before signing with Mississippi State, graduated from Fairfax High in Los Angeles last week and is prepared to enroll at Mississippi State for the second summer session that starts in early July.

Jackson hopes Sidney is cleared to play before practice begins in October.

"But I've got some real concerns that what (the NCAA is) doing right now is an intentional effort to drag this out," Jackson said. "It's also an effort for them to avoid disclosure of things we believe are relevant to this case. Essentially they want this to be a one-sided fishing expedition."