August 18, 2009
Was anyone out there ever forced to jump hurdles? Like, you weren't in
track, and your jumping-while-running abilities were limited (hence
your lifelong soccer career) but in high school gym class one day your
gym teacher decided to make you jump some hurdles? You know, just to
see how torn up a teenagers shins can get before he or she decides to
sit out? So much for that soccer career. Thanks, teach.
In a way of speaking, I'm betting Renardo Sidney feels much the same way. He's being forced to clear hurdles that he otherwise wasn't planning for, and these hurdles -- proving he can hack it academically at the collegiate level, proving his parents weren't siphoning cash from a a great Los Angeles-area booster for all of 2007-08 -- are coming in waves.
To Sidney's credit, the first is now cleared: Renardo is officially academically eligible to enroll at Mississippi State in 2009-10. To Sidney's likely dismay, this really doesn't matter all that much.
The real issue with Sidney's recruitment has nothing to do with academics. It has to do with how his parents managed to finance a hefty house payment in Los Angeles area with no apparent source of income. USC was so scared of Sidney's potential eligibility issues they dropped his scholarship offer entirely, and this was under Tim Floyd. The NCAA wants to know why. In the meantime, the Sidney family lawyer is defending against the NCAA's financial records subpoenas -- the NCAA is now demanding tax returns from Sidney's grandparents, too -- by tying the case tangentially to race. If the NCAA eventually denies Sidney's eligibility, the Sidneys will probably sue, and that's when things get really interesting.
In other words, we still don't know anything about Sidney's family's money, or where it came from. But we do at least know that Sidney can hack the academic work. He's not merely a cipher, a figurant. He is, like Hal Incandenza, in there. Now if only he had some favorable tax records.