December 21, 2010
A whopping one game after he emerged from 14 months of NCAA-mandated purgatory, Renardo Sidney's college career again is on hold.
Mississippi State has suspended Sidney for its matchup against Washington State on Wednesday in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic. According to multiple reports, the talented but mercurial big man's suspension stems from an altercation that occurred in practice on Monday in Hawaii.
"At this time, Sid is suspended indefinitely," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said in a statement. "That's all I'm saying. That's all that needs to be said."
Once hailed as the top high school big man in the nation, the 6-foot-10 Sidney was expected to provide an interior complement to guards Ravern Johnson and Dee Bost this season for Mississippi State. He scored 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting in a 31-point loss to Virginia Tech last Saturday, but the solid debut was overshadowed by concerns over his lack of conditioning.
The loss of Sidney leaves Mississippi State undermanned at a juncture in the Bulldogs' schedule when they need to make up for the Virginia Tech debacle and early losses to East Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic. A loss to Washington State would relegate Mississippi State to the consolation bracket of the Diamond Head Classic, where any victories the Bulldogs register would do little to help their RPI.
They offered him a scholarship when nobody else would touch him. They stood by him during the NCAA's year-long investigation into his amateur status. And they designed their entire schedule around him this season, banking that the team could survive nine games against weak competition without him and then thrive against the meat of the non-conference slate once he returned.
Even though the team has determined this is a one-game penalty for Sidney, it's still symptomatic of a larger problem.
There's still time for Sidney to prove his critics wrong and rededicate himself to getting in shape and helping his team win, but each successive incident makes it look increasingly unlikely that this story will have a happy ending.