Verdict: Renardo Sidney Can Play at MSU… Next YearPosted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2010
The NCAA released its verdict on the Renardo Sidney situation at Mississippi State this afternoon, and as expected, Sidney will not be playing at all during the 2009-10 season. The question will be whether he will play in a college uniform next year, as the NCAA’s penalties against the 6’10 post player leave open that possibility. From the NCAA press memo:
Mississippi State University basketball student-athlete Renardo Sidney must sit out the remainder of the current season and 30 percent of the 2010-11 season, according to a decision announced Friday by the NCAA academic and membership affairs staff. In addition, Sidney must repay $11,800 in benefits received from preferential treatment. The sanction for 2010-11 is estimated to be nine games.
Considering the allegations against the Sidney family — that they were essentially living rent-free for a couple of years in high-end properties in Los Angeles — this seems like a relative slap on the wrist. What it really means, though, is that the NCAA couldn’t prove any (or much) 0f it. What they could prove, however, was that Sidney and his father lied about a recruiting trip that they took to LA in 2006 to visit schools. Their answers of “I don’t know” didn’t pass muster with the factfinders, and therefore the “unethical conduct” charge that the NCAA threw at him stuck. The penalty for that transgression has mostly been repaid: Sidney must sit out a full season at Mississippi State. MSU’s final home game is tomorrow, and the Bulldogs will have at most a handful of games ahead in the postseason. Put simply, this year is already shot for Sidney, so the timing of the penalty coming now doesn’t really feel like that much of a loss.
The second piece of the punishment handed down — a nine game suspendion next season and $11,800 in repaid benefits (based on extra Reebok gear, unsanctioned workouts and a family credit line) — seems light as well. The nine games, sure. But only $12k in bennies? Either the NCAA needs to hire better private investigators or the Sidney family (and their attorney Donald Jackson) are experts in deception and obfuscation. One would think that a family on the take for a shoe company as powerful as Reebok and a player broker as influential as Sonny Vaccaro would hit that amount in a good weekend. After all, the risk/reward on a player like Sidney is calculated in multiples of seven figures, not five.
Speaking of which, the spectre now hanging over the Bulldog program is what will Sidney decide to do now? Their attorney says that they already plan on appealing, but that’s unlikely to get them anywhere better than they are now. This summer Sidney will be draft-eligible as a player one year removed from high school, but the year away from the game has not helped his NBA draft stock. At one time considered the top player in the Class of 2009 (ahead of John Wall, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins), he is now listed in the mid- to late-second round on two top NBA Draft sites. Some of that drop is attributable to his play during his senior year where many scouts felt he was unfocused and coasting, but undoubtedly many are now wondering how the one-year layoff from competitive basketball has affected a player already prone to loafing.
The NBA will certainly find space on a roster for a 6’10, 270-lb beast with a soft touch around the rim, even if on a flier. But staying at Mississippi State another year is another interesting option. Current MSU patrolman and college basketball’s all-time leading shot blocker, Jarvis Varnado, will finish his career this spring along with starting guard Barry Stewart, but the Bulldogs should return the core of a relatively young bubble team this season. Should Sidney choose to return, he could slide right into Varnado’s warm post spot with the hope that the roster continues to develop (including 7’1 project John Riek).