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Sherrill, assistants cited for gift-giving

JACKSON, Miss. -- A Mississippi State recruit's grandfather
told investigators that retired coach Jackie Sherrill offered to
provide the player a car, the NCAA said in its report on alleged
rules violations by the football program.

The 22-page document, released Monday by the school, lists 13
possible violations that occurred from 1998-02.

Several of the alleged violations involved assistant coach Glenn
Davis and former assistant Jerry Fremin giving cash and gifts and
offering improper benefits to prospective student-athletes and
their families.

Mississippi State's response to the NCAA's notice of
allegations, known as an official letter of inquiry, is due by
March 2.

Sherrill said in a telephone interview Monday evening that the
allegations against him were false.

"I can emphatically tell you that I never said those things or
inferred those things," he said. "That is absolutely not
accurate."

Athletic director Larry Templeton said the university would not
comment on the allegations or the specifics of the investigation
until the university's attorneys submit a response.

Mississippi State has been cooperating with the NCAA and
assisting with the investigation for the past 2 1/2 years, the
university said in a release.

There were no allegations of academic misconduct or of lack of
institutional control, the most serious charge that could be
brought by the NCAA.

In March, Mississippi State received a preliminary letter of
inquiry from the NCAA which said it was looking into the
possibility of those types of violations.

Mississippi State hired Sylvester Croom last week to replace
Sherrill, making Croom the first black head football coach in the
Southeastern Conference.

The Bulldogs are 8-27 since 2001, with just three Southeastern
Conference victories. They were 2-10 this season, the school's
worst since 1988.

Sherrill, who retired last month after 13 seasons with Mississippi State, was mentioned in two of allegations.

One involved the recruitment of Joseph Scott, a linebacker from
Hattiesburg (Miss.) High School who ended up signing with Southern
Mississippi
. The other involved the recruitment of offensive
lineman Chris Spencer, an offensive lineman from Madison Central
(Miss.) High School who attends Mississippi.

According the notice of allegations, the mother of a Mississippi
State student-athlete told Scott's grandmother, Ardasene Scott,
during a phone conversation that Sherrill got her son "a nice
ride."

During another telephone conversation, Ardasene Scott asked
Fremin if Sherrill would obtain a vehicle for her grandson. Fremin
told the woman that Sherrill would discuss that matter during
Joseph Scott's official visit to Mississippi State and "take care
of it," according to the NCAA's report.

On Scott's official visit, Sherrill told Scott's grandfather
that he was "working on what they had been talking about," the
report states.

Scott's grandfather told his wife that their grandson would not
attend Mississippi State because he believed Sherrill offered them
a car, the report stated.

Scott transferred from Southern Miss, played in junior college
and is now attending Jackson State.

In the other case involving Sherrill, Spencer's stepfather, Ben
Wallace, said Sherrill told him that he would make sure that
Spencer and his family were taken care of, and that if Wallace was
in need of employment or anything, to call Sherrill, the NCAA
report stated.

Fremin, who worked as an offensive line coach for Mississippi
State for four seasons, was accused in the report of paying travel
and lodging expenses for an unofficial recruitment visit Scott made
to Starkville.

The report also alleged that Fremin arranged for a Mississippi
State booster to make improper contact with recruits and arrange
impermissible employment for prospective student-athletes.

Fremin resigned in March 2001. The university cited health reasons.

On his attorney's recommendation, Fremin declined to comment on the report.

Among the allegations against Davis, he's accused of giving a
recruit, Kenneth Griffith of Brandon High School, $800 to pay for
summer school classes Griffith needed to be able to satisfy the
NCAA's initial eligibility requirements.

Davis denied any wrongdoing when the allegation was first reported by a newspaper in April.

Griffith signed with Southern Miss, but ended up attending junior college.

Mississippi State's football program was found guilty of major NCAA infractions in 1996 and received one year probation and a loss of scholarships.

After Sherrill was forced out at Texas A&M in 1988, the Aggies were hit hard by NCAA sanctions for dozens of violations that occurred during Sherrill's time in College Station.

Because the current allegations go back to 1998, Mississippi State could be dealt with as a repeat violator by the NCAA, which could lead to harsher penalties being imposed.