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Missouri Probes Charges Against Clemons

August 2, 2003

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri is investigating allegations made by former basketball player Ricky Clemons’ ex-girlfriend that he received cash and clothing from coaches, a school official said Friday.

Coach Quin Snyder emphatically denied Clemons received money, but acknowledged giving him promotional attire that he planned to discard.

``The best way for me to answer that is to say that none of our athletes have ever received any improper funds,″ Snyder said Friday in a telephone interview from the Dominican Republic, where he is on the U.S. coaching staff at the Pan Am Games.

But Snyder acknowledged in the interview, and in a deposition taken during Clemons’ prosecution for domestic assault, that he gave the now-incarcerated athlete pants and a couple of pairs of shoes he had received as promotional gifts. Snyder said he was cleaning out his office and came across the items.

``They had no value to me. Usually I give those to friends and family but Ricky happened to be there and if I’d known it was an infraction, I wouldn’t have done it,″ Snyder said.

If the university decides those gifts weren’t allowed by NCAA rules, it will report them as violations, said Sarah Reesman, the university’s associate athletic director. She said the rules allow athletes to receive clothing used for practice or competition, but Reesman didn’t know whether the attire fit those descriptions.

Assistant basketball coach Lane Odom, in a separate sworn deposition, said of Clemons: ``I did not give him money.″

Odom _ who has known Clemons since his senior year in high school and recruited him to Missouri _ declined a request for an interview from The AP.

An official at the county jail where Clemson is being held said Friday the former player didn’t want to talk to reporters.

The allegations surfaced in questions asked during the March depositions by Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane.

Crane said in an interview Friday the questions were drawn from his office’s investigation of the domestic assault case.

That investigation included multiple interviews with Jessica Bunge, whom the prosecutor and others identified as Clemons’ ex-girlfriend.

Crane said the questions were intended to establish the closeness of Bunge’s relationship with Clemons, which the athlete had denied. The clothes Snyder acknowledged giving Clemons were seized by police from Bunge’s bedroom closet.

``Any investigation or questioning by this office was done solely for the purpose of pursuing this criminal prosecution,″ Crane said Friday.

The prosecutor added that he did not ask further questions about the gifts because ``I am not the NCAA police.″

Bunge, who now attends school in the Chicago area, did not return messages from the AP relayed Friday through relatives.

Clemons, 23, pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment of Bunge. He is serving a 60-day sentence in the Boone County Jail. Clemons was kicked off the basketball team last week and his athletic scholarship has been revoked.

The depositions were made public after a circuit judge ruled Thursday the records could be released by the prosecutor.

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