Elgin Bailey to leave Mississippi State

Updated: January 3, 2011, 7:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Mississippi State has reinstated the eligibility of forwards Elgin Bailey and Renardo Sidney, suspended indefinitely last month for their fight in the stands as they were watching a Diamond Head Classic game in Honolulu.

Coach Rick Stansbury said Bailey was seeking a transfer and had asked for and been granted a release from the team.

Mississippi State
AP Photo/Eugene TannerRenardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey, both teammates with the Mississippi State basketball team, fight in the stands before the start of the Utah/Hawaii basketball game.

"I wish him the best as he moves on," Stansbury said in a statement. "He's worked extremely hard for us during his time here. Elgin has had to deal with some very tough injuries, but he's worked very hard to get to where he is now. Wherever he ends up, I hope he's able to have a lot of success."

Bailey, a captain for the Bulldogs, has averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 12 games this season as a junior.

Punches were thrown in the fight, which lasted several minutes and was broken up by teammates.

Stansbury hasn't made the facts public yet, but sources close to the team told ESPN.com that he's working off findings of an investigation that Bailey was the instigator of the scuffle because he didn't move his feet in the aisle while Sidney was trying to walk past him, antagonizing Sidney into a fight.

According to Stansbury, had the previously suspended Sidney been the one who started the scuffle -- instead of the one who Stansbury believes tried to walk away -- Sidney would likely be dismissed. Just days before the fight, Sidney was suspended for a game after an "incident" during practice.

"As for this team, it's time to move on and learn from these mistakes," Stansbury said Monday. "Hopefully, by sending Sid and Elgin home following the incident, a strong message was sent that this type of behavior is unacceptable."

Bailey and Sidney were sent home before the Christmas Day fifth-place game, a 68-57 loss to host Hawaii. Stansbury said they traveled on separate planes to their respective home-state destinations -- Bailey to Louisiana and Sidney to Mississippi.

Sidney, a highly touted McDonald's All-American out of Fairfax (Los Angeles) High, sat out all of last season while awaiting clearance from the NCAA due to eligibility issues. He has appeared in just two games this season and scored 31 points with nine rebounds.

"I'm very embarrassed about what happened," Sidney said in the statement. "I know how bad it looked on TV and the embarrassment it caused for everyone associated with Mississippi State. I've had a lot of time to think about it, and I will learn from this mistake, move forward and become a better man."

The Bulldogs (8-6) next play Saturday afternoon against visiting Alabama (7-6) in the SEC opener for both.

"We expect all of our student-athletes to represent themselves, our university, athletic program, fans and alumni in a first-class manner at all times," Mississippi state athletic director Scott Stricklin said. "Hopefully, the disciplinary action that was taken sends a strong message to these young men, and all of our student-athletes, that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated."

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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