By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State University has determined the fate of the two players involved in the fight in Hawaii that became a national incident.
The Bulldogs men’s basketball program announced Monday afternoon that the indefinite suspensions for sophomore forward Renardo Sidney and junior Elgin Bailey have been lifted but their futures will be completely different.
Sidney will return to action after his third suspension in his Mississippi State career Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum (3 p.m., SEC Network) against Alabama (7-6) in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
“It’s time to move on and learn from these mistakes,” Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said in the school release.
“Hopefully, by sending Sid and Elgin home following the incident, a strong message was sent that this type of behavior is unacceptable.”
Elgin Bailey, the second Mississippi State player involved in the brawl in the stands during the Diamond Head Classic on the night of Dec. 23, informed Stansbury of his wishes to leave the program with the intent to transfer to another school.
“Elgin told me of his plans to transfer, and I wish him the best as he moves on,” Stansbury said. “He’s worked extremely hard for us during his time here. Elgin has had to deal with some very tough injuries, but he’s worked very hard to get to where he is now. Wherever he ends up, I hope he’s able to have a lot of success.”
Bailey, who will not be enrolled in the spring semester of classes at MSU, appeared in 74 games during his career with the Bulldogs and recorded 229 points, 161 rebounds along with 44 blocked shots. The junior forward, who was named team captain this offseason, was averaging 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds this season.
Attempts by the Starkville Daily News to contact Bailey were unsuccessful.
Sidney and Bailey were suspended indefinitely and sent home from the Aloha state for their part in a fight in the stands as ESPNU cameras caught both players throwing punches in the stands about 10 minutes before the tip of the game between tournament host Hawaii and Utah at the Stan Sheriff Center.
“We expect all of our student-athletes to represent themselves, our university, athletic program, fans and alumni in a first-class manner at all times,” MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said in the release. “Hopefully, the disciplinary action that was taken sends a strong message to these young men, and all of our student-athletes, that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.”
ESPN color analyst Doug Gottlieb, who was preparing to call the Utah-Hawaii game at the media table when the fight broke out, was able to describe the scene.
“It was a bizarre scene and one that I’m sure was scary for the people in the arena and in the stands near where it happened,” Gottlieb said. “For a kid [Sidney] that has serious pro aspirations, I can tell you also there was 20 NBA scouts in the stands watching every bit of that.”
Gottlieb has later, during his weekly ESPNU college basketball podcast with fellow analyst Andy Katz, went on to call the current MSU program a “dumpster fire” comparing their players’ behavior to “the worst run AAU program in the country”.
MSU officials confirmed to the Starkville Daily News today that Sidney was back on the practice court with the team Monday in their first official workout since returning to campus after the 5-game, 11,701-mile road trip that included stops in The Bahamas, Hawaii and Las Vegas.
Sidney has already gone through last year’s NCAA suspension that took away his entire freshman season and nine games of this campaign and then was forced to sit out one game after an incident occurred during a practice while at the University of Hawaii when the 6-foot-10 forward had altercations with coaches and teammates while the team
prepared for the holiday tournament.
In the two games Sidney has competed for Mississippi State (8-6), the Jackson native has put up 15.5 points and 4.5 boards after being a former McDonald’s All-American candidate in high school.
“I’m very embarrassed about what happened,” Sidney stated. “I know how bad it looked on TV and the embarrassment it caused for everyone associated with Mississippi State. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and I will learn from this mistake, move forward and become a better man.”
In the preseason, Bailey was the one Sidney credited as a motivating force in his peer group that not only kept him in Starkville to play for the Bulldogs during the this season but help him keep his mind on the game when the chances seemed dim that he would ever suit up for the Bulldogs.
“I call him my little brother and you look at the things I’ve been through – they’re just life situations,” Bailey said during SEC Media Day on Oct. 8. “I’ve sat out in high school (due to a Louisiana prep rule involving transfers) and sat out last year (with an injury). He knew where I was coming from because Renardo was used to playing.”