September 30, 2009
We all knew Mississippi State recruit Renardo Sidney -- currently under investigation with a "not certified" status from the NCAA for issues related to his lodgings during a recruiting sojourn to Los Angeles in recent years -- had a bit of a bombastic lawyer. When the NCAA asked for tax documents from Sidney's family, including his grandparents, in order to prove the income that would allow them to pay a hefty mortgage in the greater L.A. area, Don Jackson almost immediately played the race card. That was our first real sign.
Things have gotten crazier since. Jackson has kept up the race talk, but instead of using that inflammatory language to his advantage in a realistic way, he's thrown out the insane man's favorite trump card: Congress!
Yes, Jackson wants to take Renardo Sidney's case to Congress. He assumes Congress wants to talk about Renardo Sidney. He even did Congress the favor of mocking up a big ol' press release with the relevant issues at hand (i.e. race, basketball, the NCAA, and so on). You're welcome, Congress! And he, against all odds, is apparently serious. From the release:
These harsh tactics, which have included denials of initial eligibility based upon invalidation of grades from state sanctioned, regionally accredited institutions and illegal, intrusive amateurism investigations have been disproportionately directed towards African American student-athletes and their families. This has culminated in the most intrusive, initial eligibility evaluation in history. The one consistent pattern that I have seen throughout these recent investigations has been the race of the overwhelming majority of the families and involved student athletes. African Americans are disproportionately impacted by these intrusive investigations, threatened with adverse eligibility consequences unless they voluntarily waive their rights under state and federal law and are more aggressively investigated.
Jackson's main point, if you don't feel like reading a block of self-impressed quasi-legalese, is that when the NCAA investigates athletes for eligibility concerns, their "harsh tactics" disproportionately affect African Americans. Which is totally weird, when you think about the fact that African Americans are such a smaller portion of college basketball athletes than do other races. Er, wait.
John Gasaway got ahold of Jackson's press release this morning, and is even more flabbergasted than you and I. For good reason:
Jackson has loudly and repeatedly vowed to take legal action to get his client on the court for the Bulldogs this season. Call me naive, but I had rather assumed the legal action would consist of finding a sympathetic judge to issue an injunction, court order, or anything else that would create the needed five-month window to get this kid through his one-and-done year. After all, judges issue questionable orders all the time. Many of them are overturned later, but that process takes time–weeks and months during which Sidney could be dominating the SEC West. I thought Jackson was headed down this road.
Silly me. Jackson instead thinks the wise course here is to haul the NCAA before Congress on charges of “selectively harsh treatment against African American student athletes.” I have no doubt Jackson can round up some sympathetic ears on the Hill and hold some rollicking good press conferences. But let’s be frank: The chances of Jackson securing from Congress the needed ”legislative intervention” (Jackson’s words) on behalf of Renardo Sidney is exactly zero. Or should be.
This is Jackson's thinking: Because the NCAA disproportionately targets African American athletes with eligibility investigations (which is probably not true), Congress should grant him and his client, potential Mississippi State standout Renardo Sidney, a hearing on Capitol Hill (which it definitely won't do).
The title of Gasaway's post is "Renardo Sidney deserves a better lawyer." Um ... yeah.