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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Amateur status of basketball star Renardo Sidney still under review

Former Fairfax player has signed letter of intent with Mississippi State, but school and NCAA are waiting for information from family about personal loans, sources say. Classes begin in mid-August.

July 16, 2009|Lance Pugmire

Two months after he signed a letter of intent and just five weeks before classes are set to begin at Mississippi State, Los Angeles Fairfax High basketball star Renardo Sidney still has not been cleared to play in college by the NCAA.

Sidney's amateur status is being reviewed by both the school and NCAA, the process stalled because his family has yet to turn over information that has been requested about one of at least two personal loans it took out in recent years, according to sources.

One of the sources is the NCAA, which rarely comments publicly during investigations but has released three statements about Sidney's situation, including one July 7 that said "the Sidney family has not turned over all requested financial records."

Another source with knowledge of the situation, but who is not authorized to speak about it publicly, said the Sidney family needs to explain what collateral was used to gain one of the loans.

NCAA rules forbid a student-athlete's family from receiving loans based on the athlete's "reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete."

A Mississippi State official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the collateral "could be an issue." The source also said it was "50-50" whether Sidney would ever play for the Bulldogs.

Earlier this year, UCLA and USC pulled back scholarship offers to Sidney because sources said officials at both schools were wary of NCAA scrutiny into the family's finances.

While Renardo played for Fairfax, the family rented in an upscale area near the school. There were also concerns about the financial backing of a club basketball team directed by the player's father.

The Sidneys could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The family's attorney, Donald Jackson, did not return phone and text messages.

Bracky Brett, Mississippi State's compliance director, said, "All sides are working together to gather more documentation. The case is in progress and facing a tight timeline."

Classes begin Aug. 17 and Brett said Sidney would also need to have his academic standing certified before he could play.

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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