(AP) KANSAS CITY — Tutors at the University of Missouri did excessive academic work for Ricky Clemons, the former Tigers’ basketball player dropped from the team last month, his ex-girlfriend says.
In an interview with The Kansas City Star, Jessica Bunge also gave further details about her previous allegations that Clemons received money from someone in the university basketball program, and disputed coach Quin Snyder’s account of how much clothing the player got from him.
Bunge, a former Missouri student who goes to school in Chicago, was interviewed there by The Star on Monday night. She said she spoke earlier Monday with an NCAA investigator but would not discuss specifics of that conversation.
In an account of her interview with The Star the newspaper published Wednesday, Bunge was quoted as saying of Clemons, “He swore he could get away with anything, and they proved it to him.”
Bunge told The Star about what she believed to be excessive academic help to Clemons, a junior college transfer student who averaged 14.2 points per game last season.
She said she once went to the athletic support center to pick up Clemons, and while waiting for him logged on to the Internet at a computer next to one he was seated at.
Bunge said a tutor sitting on the other side of Clemons was typing a paper for him. Clemons, she said, barely paid attention to the tutor, focusing instead on Bunge’s Internet surfing.
The tutor, she said, was writing the paper, and would say to Clemons, “You see why I did this?” She said Clemons would “look over and say ‘Yeah’ and then look right back over at me.”
The NCAA allows tutors to type papers for athletes, if the player pays an hourly or per-page rate for the service, according to Bryan Maggard, associate athletic director for academic services at Missouri. NCAA rules prohibit tutors from providing original composition, and in past cases of improper typing schools have had to declare players ineligible and apply for reinstatement.
“I know we’re not making any comment until our internal investigation is completed,” Maggard said. “This will be addressed very seriously.”
Bunge said that on another occasion she saw a tutor meet Clemons outside a classroom about 10 minutes before a class began. She said the tutor handed Clemons a completed assignment and that Clemons took it into the class and turned it in.
Clemons was suspended from the team for one game in January after a problem at his apartment involving Bunge, who said he held her against her will and also choked her. In April, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment and third-degree assault. He got a 60-day jail sentence for the false imprisonment count and was suspended from the basketball team for all of next season, but retained his scholarship.
Clemons began serving his time under a work-release arrangement. But after he was injured in an ATV accident near the Columbia home of MU President Elson Floyd on July 4, it was discovered that he was supposed to be back at the halfway house at the time. That led to Clemons being ordered to the Boone County Jail to serve out the rest of his sentence and to his dismissal from the basketball program.
Clemons remains in the jail at Columbia and is scheduled to be released Aug. 24. Through his attorney, Wally Bley, he declined The Star’s request for an interview Tuesday. Through Bley, he also denied all allegations of cheating and receiving improper benefits, other than those that Snyder acknowledged in court depositions and interviews.
Missouri officials declined to discuss specific allegations Tuesday, saying only that the school’s investigation is ongoing.
“Certainly, we’ll get to the bottom of this,” Athletic Director Mike Alden said.
Snyder has acknowledged that he gave Clemons two pairs of shoes and a pair of sweat pants, which he said “probably” will be ruled an NCAA violation.
According to Bunge, Clemons received much more.
She said she once drove to Snyder’s house in her GMC Jimmy and that Clemons began bringing out armloads of clothes.
“He took three full loads from his house to my car,” she said. “I have an SUV, and the whole back end was full. He had sweat suits. He had really, really nice dress coats. He had suits. He had boxers. He had gym bags. He had a lot of Mizzou apparel, but a lot of it was really nice Brooks Brothers stuff.”
Bunge also said Clemons often would come out of Hearnes Center, with cash, allegations she first made in Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane’s initial investigation into the assault case.
Snyder has denied that Clemons, or any of his players, received money, and Bunge said she never saw an exchange of money.
“I took him to the Hearnes, and he would come out and have money,” she told The Star. “A hundred here, a hundred there. He’d get 50s. He’d get 20s. Anytime he needed money. If he needed money to pay his phone bill, that’s where he went.”
Bunge said she and Clemons would go to the mall and “he would spend hundreds of dollars on jump suits.”
“We went out to eat all the time,” she said. “He never bought groceries. We went out to dinner at least once a day at a nice restaurant, and we’d get fast food two other times.”