A few hours before LSU’s overtime victory over Purdue on Thursday
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A few hours before LSU’s overtime victory over Purdue on Thursday, the NCAA confirmed the eligibility of center Jose Vargas and warded off a boycott of the first-round game in the NCAA Southeast Regional here, sources in the LSU athletic department confirmed Friday.
Athletic Director Bob Brodhead did not answer his office number, and Assistant Athletic Director Joe Yates referred all questions to Brodhead.
On Saturday, ESPN’s Dick Vitale said that only 48 hours before the game, the National Collegiate Athletic Association notified LSU that Vargas would be ineligible unless the school documented his amateur athletic standing.
Although Vitale did not say why the NCAA sent such a letter, the LSU sources - who insisted on anonymity - said it was over Vargas’ participation in a summer basketball league in the Dominican Republic.
It is the same league in which much traveled Tito Horford played. Three months ago, when Horford’s eligiblity at Houston was being heard by an NCAA appeals committee, it was mentioned that his amateur standing would have to be confirmed before he could play college ball.
Horford is now enrolled at Miami, and the LSU source said there is an apparent link between the cases of Horford and the NCAA’s inquiry into the Vargas matter.
Vargas is a sophomore at LSU and has played in a reserve role, sometimes starting, for two seasons.
Vitale’s report said that LSU Coach Dale Brown was infuriated by the NCAA’s precipitous action after two years and informed his players of the original letter.
The players, Vitale said, voted to boycott and Brown said he would support that.
Thursday afternoon, however, the NCAA accepted LSU’s documentation of Vargas’ standing, and he was cleared to play. LSU beat Purdue 94-87 in double overtime and meets Memphis State on Saturday in a second-round game.
Brown could not be reached for comment.