Walking NCAA Violation Scares Off UCLA, USC

USC and UCLA, two college basketball powerhouses and two bitter rivals were chomping at the bit to sign Renardo Sidney, one of the top prep talents in the nation. Then, all of a sudden — nothing. Both schools withdrew their interest. What could be so damning about a prospect that schools would back away so quickly, and in the case of USC, after he had already committed?

Renardo Sidney

As always seems the case in the NCAA, the problem was money. More specifically, lots of it and no clear source for it. Both schools aborted their recruiting of Sidney, the number two power foward in the country, due to questions over his family’s finances and an insinuation that they expected to be paid for signing with a school.

If you’ve ever wondered how many potential NCAA violations are too many, even for USC, now you’ve got your answer.

Sidney is 6′10″ with an older man’s build and a rare jump shot. As reported here in 2006, the family packed up from their Mississippi home and moved to Los Angeles after the father, Renardo Sr., became a “paid consultant” with Reebok. His mother Patricia served as her husband’s personal assistant. Only problem is, no one can figure out just what they do for Reebok, and even Sonny Vaccaro says any compensation wouldn’t be nearly enough to pay for the family’s recent purchases.

The family has moved three times since then, each time to get Renardo on a top prep team. One home was valued at $1.2 million, and the Sidneys paid $5000 a month. Additionally, Renardo Sr. started his own basketball club, with financial backing that remains a mystery. The Sidneys have been tied to club coach Pat Barrett, who is under investigation for reportedly steering Kevin Love to UCLA in exchange for $250,000.

Plus there was this: A source intimately familiar with Sidney’s recruitment said a university official thought the father had strongly hinted that he expected to be compensated if his son signed with the school.

After UCLA and USC backed out, Sidney signed with Mississippi State. You’d think a smaller school would be doing backflips over landing a top recruit, but compliance director Bracky Brett makes it sound like they’re not convinced the controversy is settled.

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

He added, “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.”