Sherrill, assistants cited for gift-giving

Updated: December 9, 2003, 1:26 PM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press