The NCAA on Friday strongly penalized Renardo Sidney, saying the former Fairfax High basketball star accepted improper benefits and lied to the organization during its investigation.
The Mississippi State freshman, who has not played while waiting for the NCAA to rule, was declared ineligible for the rest of this season and 30% of next season and fined $11,800 for "benefits received from preferential treatment."
Mississippi State announced Friday it would appeal the decision. The Sidney family and their attorney did not respond to telephone messages left by The Times seeking comment.
"We felt from the beginning Renardo deserves the opportunity to be both a student and athlete at Mississippi State, and this is still our hope today," Mississippi State Athletics Director Greg Byrne said.
But the NCAA took a hard line with the 6-foot-10 center, who came to Southern California from Mississippi before his sophomore season and immediately helped Lakewood Artesia High win a Southern Section championship.
The Times last year profiled Sidney after an extensive amount of reporting, but many questions went unanswered about the family's finances and how a nonprofit organization worked in relation to a summer club basketball team coached by the player's father, Renardo Sr.
While Renardo Jr. played for Fairfax as a junior and senior, the Sidney family rented upscale homes near the school. The owner of a $1.2-million home the Sidneys rented said Patricia Sidney paid him monthly with a rent check in excess of $4,000.
According to the family attorney, Renardo Sr. earned money as a consultant for the apparel company Reebok and Patricia was his personal secretary.
The NCAA released a statement saying that the Sidney family was found to have used money from the nonprofit organization for personal gain.
The NCAA found the nonprofit funds "would not have been available were it not for the student-athlete's athletic skills and reputation," a violation of amateurism rules. Rule-breaking "preferential treatment" was also extended to Sidney in the form of hotel accommodations, travel expenses, free athletic gear and training, the NCAA reported.
The NCAA academic and membership affairs staff worked closely with Mississippi State authorities to establish the $11,800 penalty for repayment, an NCAA spokeswoman said.
Mississippi State also found that Sidney "violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he provided false or misleading information throughout the eligibility process," according to the NCAA statement.
"Our members have made it crystal clear that student-athletes who receive impermissible benefits, either directly or indirectly, and who lie to the NCAA must be held accountable," said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. "This case is about more than a student-athlete. One of our core responsibilities is to ensure a level playing field for all student-athletes and their teams. No team or individual should have an unfair advantage."