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Player SUV Reportedly at Center of Probe

November 7, 2003

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ Mississippi and the NCAA are investigating how tailback Ronald McClendon paid for a car he purchased several weeks ago.

Salesman Ralph Pinner, contacted at Prestige Auto where he works, told The Associated Press on Friday that he had been interviewed by Ole Miss compliance director David Wells.

``They just asked me if the sale was in cash,″ Pinner said. ``I said, ’No it was a check.‴

Pinner said he remembered McClendon saying he would have to borrow the money. Pinner declined to discuss any contact he had with NCAA representatives.

Coach David Cutcliffe announced Oct. 30 that the university was looking into ``potential rules violations″ by McClendon. However, he did not elaborate.

McClendon was held out of No. 20 Ole Miss’ game with South Carolina last week and could miss Saturday’s game against Auburn.

Pinner said questions were also asked about what role businessman Louie Dickerson might have had in the transaction.

A booster providing help in purchasing a car could be a major violation of the NCAA extra benefits rules. That could jeopardize McClendon’s eligibility and could also subject Ole Miss to harsh penalties such as the forfeiture of games in which McClendon has played, a reduction in scholarships or probation.

Wells has said the investigation is ongoing. He said his findings would be forwarded to the Southeastern Conference office and the NCAA.

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