NCAA, university investigation to continue

Updated: December 4, 2003, 10:55 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- University of Missouri President Elson Floyd said he feels "much better" about allegations of inappropriate academic help for a former basketball player after a meeting with the NCAA on Thursday.

But Floyd also told The Associated Press that Missouri hasn't been cleared, the long-running NCAA investigation isn't over, and he doesn't know when it will end.

The university and the NCAA have spent months investigating allegations surrounding former guard Ricky Clemons, including assertions by his ex-girlfriend that he received improper help with school work. Missouri coach Quin Snyder has said he had no knowledge of his former player receiving improper academic help.

"Personally, I feel much better about there not being a possibility of any academic violations having occurred, but we need to wait and see what the NCAA says," Floyd said after about two hours of meetings in Indianapolis with NCAA enforcement officials.

Floyd said he sought the meeting "to get a sense of where they were, relative to the investigation -- and it's unclear when they will be finishing their investigation."

The NCAA said in a letter dated Sept. 23 that it was giving Missouri formal notice of an inquiry already under way for several months.

The NCAA and Missouri had said they expected the investigations to be wrapped up by this month, but Floyd said: "We don't know when it will end."

Under NCAA bylaws, a school is notified in writing "if the enforcement staff has developed reasonably reliable information indicating that an institution has been in violation of the Association's governing legislation that requires further in-person investigation. ..."

Questions have arisen about how Clemons accumulated 24 academic credits -- enough to enroll at Missouri from a Kansas junior college -- during a two-month period in the summer of 2002.

After more allegations related to academics by Jessica Bunge, Clemons' ex-girlfriend, Floyd took the internal investigation from the athletic department and handed its leadership to veteran electrical engineering Professor Michael Devaney, an immediate past president of the Columbia campus faculty council.

Bunge alleged Clemons choked her in a headlock and held her against her will at his Columbia apartment one night last January.

Clemons at first denied the allegations, but after the basketball season ended, he pleaded guilty in April to two misdemeanors. Clemons was sentenced to a halfway house but was ordered to complete a 40-day sentence in the county jail after violating terms of his sentence.

While Clemons was in jail, he was kicked off the basketball team. He has made no recent public comments about Bunge's allegations or answered questions about whether he is cooperating with the NCAA.

The investigations intensified this summer because of allegations by Bunge that Clemons had also received cash and clothes while playing for Missouri.

Snyder acknowledged in his sworn depositions that he gave Clemons a couple of pairs of promotional shoes and pants he intended to discard. But Snyder said he didn't recall more extensive clothing gifts and he denied giving Clemons cash. Snyder has said he is cooperating with the NCAA and internal investigations.

Floyd said he was joined in the meeting at NCAA headquarters by athletic director Mike Alden, associate athletic director Sarah Reesman, and university attorneys Bunky Wright and Bill Arnet. Snyder did not attend.

NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes said she was prohibited from commenting on "any potential or ongoing investigation."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press