Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Renardo Sidney's case to Congress?

Today is September 30th, which means that on Friday, we will officially be two weeks from the start of college basketball practice.

Do a little math, and you realize that Don Jackson, the lawyer representing Renardo Sidney, has all of 16 days to get his client eligible if Sidney wants to participate in pre-season practices with Mississippi State.

Having already played the race card, Jackson does what any reasonable lawyer does when he is trying to speed up a case: threatens to take it in front of Congress...?

No, seriously.

He really is.


Well, once you peal back the legalese mumbo jumbo, Jackson's basic argument is that the NCAA disproportionately targets black student-athletes when dealing with eligibility issues.

Personally, I could care less whether or not this is a valid point (which I don't think it is - do you think Jackson realizes that there is a disproportionate of student-athletes playing the sports people care about, i.e. football and basketball, are black?). The real question is whether or not this is the best route for Sidney's representation to take if they want him to play college hoops this season. From John Gasaway over at Basketball Prospectus:

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 are exactly zero. Or should be. If our nation’s elected officials actually table discussion on Afghanistan, our health care system, reforms in financial regulation, and Iran's nuclear capability to spend time pondering whether or not Renardo Sidney should be allowed to play college basketball, they will have one angry constituent on their hands, regardless of whether they mandate or prohibit Sidney’s presence on the floor.
The way I see it, Jackson is probably doing the best job he can. In my mind, corruption in amateur basketball and college basketball recruiting has reached a level almost on par with steroids in baseball; I don't necessarily believe everyone is dirty, but given the number of scandals that have come to light over the past year, I'm at a point where any rumor equals truth.

In fewer words, I think Sidney probably did something illegal. Jackson knows this. And he also knows that, if he were to turn over the documents that the NCAA is requesting, they would find out about these illegal deeds, rendering Sidney ineligible to play.

If this theory of mine is, in fact, true, then Jackson is probably throwing around the race card and this notion that he is taking Sidney's case in front of Congress because he is trying to get people - the media, the fans, the NCAA - to focus on those things instead of the fact that Sidney should be ineligible.

Could this be a sign of how dire Renardo Sidney's straits actually are?

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