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Missouri Tells NCAA of Hoops Woes

October 1, 1999

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri self-reported today possible NCAA recruiting violations with the first two prospects to announce commitments to new men’s basketball coach Quin Synder, the university’s athletic director said.

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden called the NCAA after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch raised questions about the mothers of basketball prospects Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson riding on a plane chartered by Missouri.

Alden said he contacted the NCAA today and asked officials to investigate ``a possible infraction.″ The call followed one Wednesday to the Big 12 Conference, which advised Missouri that it would be ``beneficial″ to notify the NCAA.

``We don’t know if an infraction has indeed taken place,″ Alden said. ``The NCAA is the only one that can determine if an infraction has taken place.″

Paulding and Johnson, both seniors from Detroit, orally committed to Missouri last week. But their status is in question because their mothers flew with them on a plane chartered for their official visit.

``It’s not permissible for the parents to fly with the prospect whether it’s on the institution’s plane or a noncommercial charter,″ said Steve Mallonee, director of NCAA membership services.

NCAA rules state that a school can use commercial flights or noncommercial flights _ the school’s own plane, charter or private planes _ to bring prospects to campus for official visits. But relatives, friends and legal guardians can accompany prospects only on commercial flights. On those flights, the prospect’s fare is paid by the school. Anyone accompanying the prospect must pay his or her own way.

But Missouri officials said their interpretation of the rules was that a prospect could be accompanied on a noncommercial flight if the extra party paid fair market value for the ticket.

The visits in question took place the weekend of Sept. 17-19. Alden said the mothers of both recruits prepaid between $200 and $300 for the tickets.

``It’s our understanding, and we’re pretty confident, that a number of schools around the country do this,″ Alden said.

Snyder said there’s room for interpretation in any ``legal documentation.″

The NCAA, however, said that there is no gray area on that issue.

``The rule was not intended for parents to get on the plane and reimburse because then you get into, `What is an appropriate rate?′ ″ Mallonee said.

``Parents are supposed to fly commercial. In most instances, kids go commercial.″

Alden said the university was eager to determine whether an infraction had taken place. Missouri’s compliance office already had begun investigating the matter, he said.

``I feel confident in the process. I feel confident in our basketball program. And, I feel confident in the NCAA,″ Alden said. ``Do I feel confident in a great result? I have no idea.″

Snyder said he bears responsibility if an infraction had taken place. ``Unequivocally I do,″ he said. ``I’m the head basketball coach. That’s what it means to be the head coach.″

NCAA spokeswoman Jane Jankowsi said today that she could not confirm whether Missouri has been reported.

The prospects could be declared ineligible before the Nov. 7 signing day.

According to the NCAA, if a rule is broken, it is up to the school to report the violation, then declare the prospect ineligible to play at that school _ at least temporarily.

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