Report: USC, UCLA backed off Sidney

Updated: May 4, 2009, 4:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Mississippi State, which landed highly recruited prep basketball star Renardo Sidney last week, has enlisted sports attorney Mike Glazier to help evaluate Sidney's status, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported Monday.

The news comes on the same day a Los Angeles Times story said that Sidney, considered the No. 7 recruit in the country by ESPN Scouts Inc., was eventually considered a risk to recruit by USC and UCLA.

"We use him fairly regularly for any sensitive issues," Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne told the Clarion-Ledger of Glazier. " He's got a great background and ability to give us counsel and directiron on a wide variety of subjects. Just because of a high profile nature of Renardo Sidney, we felt it was appropriate to have him involved just to make sure we were doing everything we could to best protect us, Mississippi State, and Renardo Sidney."

Sidney, originally from Mississippi, finished his prep career at Fairfax High School in the Los Angeles area. He also played at Artesia High School in nearby Lakewood.

Sidney had originally committed to USC, but a source close to the Trojans program said the school was no longer recruiting him as of late April. UCLA also stopped recruiting Sidney after considering him strongly.

According to the Times, both schools were worried about two things: several high-priced homes the family lived in around Los Angeles (the Sidney family moved several times after coming to L.A. from Mississippi) and the fact Sidney's stepfather, Renardo Sr., directed what the Times called "a club basketball team with financial backing that was unclear beyond a relatively modest shoe company sponsorship."

The Times, citing sources, also said that a university official at one of the schools felt that Renardo Sr. had "strongly hinted" that he expected compensation in turn for delivering his stepson to a school.

Donald Jackson, the Montgomery, Ala.-based attorney who is representing the Sidney family, told the Times: "That would be a violation."

Monday, Jackson told the Clarion-Ledger: "You know, how can you respond to anonymous misstatements? The reality of the matter is this young man will go through this amateurism evaluation. There have not been any violations of NCAA legislation, there's nothing improper about his recruitment, and UCLA, USC, anyone else -- no one's made any requests of any of these schools to provide monetary benefits and we're confident that he'll be on the floor playing for Mississippi State this fall and he'll get through this evaluation quite well."

Friday, when Sidney agreed to come to Mississippi State, the athletic program's compliance director said the university would proceed with caution.

"We realize by simply signing him doesn't mean the process is over," Bracky Brett said. "We know there's a lot of questions to be answered."

He added, according to the Times: "Any issues related to his amateurism or extra benefits will be part of our discussions with all parties in the very near future. By all parties, I mean the prospect, his family, the NCAA, the Southeastern Conference and everyone here at Mississippi State.

"We're not going to compromise the integrity of our institution. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks. Or months."

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