Kentucky to push for reduction in Morris' ban

Updated: December 9, 2005, 11:22 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Kentucky wanted Randolph Morris' penalty to be only nine games, or 30 percent of the Wildcats' season for committing violations during his NBA draft testing process last spring.

And that's exactly what the Wildcats will continue to push for when it files its appeal on Morris' one-year ban from playing when the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee meets via conference call the week of Dec. 19.

"We think 30 percent is fair based on past precedent," said Scott Stricklin, Kentucky's assistant athletic director in charge of media relations.

If Kentucky had gotten its way on the Morris case then Saturday's game against Indiana would have been the last one Morris would have missed this season. Kentucky (6-2) plays host to Louisville on Dec. 17 and since the committee won't hear the case until after that game Morris is assured of missing more than Kentucky's requested nine games. The Wildcats next game after the committee hears the case is Dec. 23 against Iona.

Kentucky's initial request for 30 percent was made public Friday when the school released documents through the Kentucky Open Records Act.

Kentucky based its case on reinstatement that there was a lack of evidence of a "specific exchange between the Morris family and SFX" agency where the two parties had "directly agreed [verbally or in writing] to be represented by SFX." The appeal also said Morris' father didn't know that SFX acting as a conduit for NBA teams would be construed of a violation.

The appeal showed that Morris received $7,328.96 of pre-paid expenses from nine NBA teams to cover workouts. SFX also paid a $75 fee for use of the Lakeshore Athletic Club for a workout on June 9 in Chicago.

Two of the most notable disclosures in the appeal were the Morris' monthly payment schedule to repay the money. The Morris' will donate money toward the United Negro College Fund. The first payment of $2,000 was made on Oct. 3. A canceled check to the fund accompanied the report. The second payment of $2,500 is due on Jan. 31, 2006 and then the final installment of $2,828.96 is set for March 7.

A plea from Randolph was also included. In the personal letter, Morris responds to one of the NCAA's complaints that he didn't consult with Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. Morris said, "The reason I did not consult with my coach was I thought it would have been too difficult to talk about. It is similar to the situation after recruiting is over and you have to inform coaches, who you have developed a relationship with, that you are not coming to their school. That is a very difficult conversation to have because you know that you are disappointing someone. This probably was not the most mature decision to make and I now regret making it."

Morris continued to say that he wanted to protect his eligibility throughout the summer. He said he spoke with Kentucky's compliance officer about the NCAA rules to ensure he was following protocol.

"My education is very important to me. My GPA is a [blanked out] and I am on schedule to graduate in four years," Morris said in his letter. Morris is considered an NBA free agent. He has two years of eligibility remaining under the NCAA's ruling, beginning in 2006-07. But Morris said, "I am also committed to remain at the University of Kentucky for the remainder of my eligibility. Again, I want to thank you for the second chance you have given to me. I know you understand that this is much more than basketball and that this is my life."

The letter is dated, Dec. 4, and signed by Randolph Morris. His admission got him two years of eligibility instead of a permanent ban from the NCAA staff. Now, he must wait another two weeks to see if a committee made up of administrators from NCAA member schools is sympathetic to his plea.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

ALSO SEE