In his first public comments since signing with Mississippi State, Renardo Sidney is still claiming he was wrongfully accused.
The sophomore gave on-the-record material in a question-and-answer segment for the school’s athletic website in a controlled environment by the institution on certain topics including his lost freshman year due to an NCAA investigation into his dealings before he signed with Mississippi State.
"It was very hard adjusting to college life and being away from home,” Sidney said in the interview.
On March 5, the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee upheld the NCAA’s initial ruling that forced Mississippi State signee Sidney to sit out the entire 2009-10 season of eligibility as well as 30 percent, or nine games, of next season’s slate before returning as a sophomore.
On March 5 of this year, the academic and membership affairs staff outlined its findings and disclosed its penalties following an 11-month investigation that charged Sidney, a native of Jackson, with unethical conduct and receiving improper benefits. The immediate appeal by the school was declined.
“From the beginning we believed and continue to believe Renardo deserves to be a student-athlete at Mississippi State,” former MSU athletic director Greg Byrne said at the time of the appeal denial.
In one of his answers about the yearlong ordeal, Sidney still claims he did not violate any NCAA rules and his punishment delivered five months ago was unjust.
"I was hurt, because I knew I hadn't done anything wrong,” Sidney stated. “It just killed me, because I really wanted to be on the floor helping my team win. Someone else was deciding my fate and it didn't feel fair. It was tough, and I experienced a lot of emotions. It was like a dream, but a bad one."
MSU officials did clarify with the Starkville Daily News that Sidney’s comments should be viewed as his own opinion and despite being on the university’s athletic website do not fully represent the viewpoints of the university.
The university did make concessions during the investigative process with the NCAA on the state of facts entered before the NCAA gave its initial ruling and some of those revisions included violations being agreed upon.
“When it became clear that there was no factual basis to establish violations of amateurism legislation, the focus shifted to finding a basis to justify this investigation (at any cost),” Sidney family attorney Don Jackson said on March 5.
The NCAA would not give public comments on Sidney’s comments Tuesday referring all statements to its initial ruling.
The end of Sidney’s comments focused around what Bulldogs fans can expect from the 6-foot-10 forward after he serves his nine-game suspension this season.
“I think I'll be very nervous, but I'll be excited to finally see Mississippi State on my chest,” Sidney said in the interview. "I've slimmed down a lot. I'm quicker and faster. My jumping ability is a lot higher. Conditioning wise, it's coming along. I'll be ready in October."
The interview was conducted with Sidney before he suffered an ankle injury last Friday at the Adidas Camp in Chicago.
MSU officials informed the media that the injury to the 6-foot-10 forward is “nothing major” but he was told to take it easy for a week or two after having the foot x-rayed Saturday morning.
All early indications are this injury will not keep Sidney from making his Mississippi State debut after he serves his nine-game suspension at the start of the 2010-11 season.