NCAA’s look into Missouri spreads

Thursday, August 21, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:49 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The NCAA has talked with coaches at the College of Southern Idaho, a junior college program that has sent two players to Missouri, during its investigation of the MU program.

The NCAA has twice talked with Jay Cyriac, a former College of Southern Idaho assistant coach, during its search for potential rules violations. Cyriac, who coached former Tigers Ricky Clemons and Uche Okafor at CSI, said Wednesday that the Missouri coaching staff had no influence over him during the school’s recruitment of the players.

“(CSI’s players) handle their own recruiting,” Cyriac said. “We sent kids all over the place, so the kids handle it themselves.”

The NCAA is investigating claims Jessica Bunge, Clemons’ ex-girlfriend, made that Clemons received gifts, money and extra tutoring help while at Missouri.

Clemons will complete a 60-day sentence at Boone County Jail on Sunday. After Bunge accused Clemons of choking her and refusing to allow her to leave his apartment, he pleaded guilty in April to third-degree domestic assault and false imprisonment, both misdemeanors. He was removed from the team and had his scholarship revoked July 22.

The NCAA met with Cyriac in late May and again in early July. According to Stuart Brown, his attorney, Cyriac has been forthcoming with the NCAA’s investigators. Because Cyriac signed a confidentiality agreement, he cannot divulge specifics regarding his meetings with NCAA officials.

“Jay has spoken with the NCAA twice about the matter on a completely voluntary basis and was asked to maintain confidentiality both to the spirit and the letter of the law,” Brown said.

Cyriac said he agreed to meet with NCAA officials although it has no power over junior college programs.

“I agreed (to talk) because I have nothing to hide,” he said.

Cyriac said he talked with Missouri assistant coach Lane Odom during the recruiting of Okafor and Clemons. Cyriac said Odom’s phone calls were one of the “10 to 15 calls a day” from NCAA programs interested in players at CSI.

Cyriac said that “there was nothing out of the ordinary” about the time the Missouri recruits spent at the junior college. Okafor played at CSI 1999-2001, and Clemons played there 2000-02.

Because of a privacy agreement between Cyriac and his former players, the CSI athletic department advised him not to comment on details about the private lives of his players. He described the players as celebrities in the small town of Twin Falls. The team’s continual success and history of sending players to NCAA programs made the team enormously popular.

The Twin Falls Times-News has reported that Clemons was charged with aggravated battery in July 2001, but the charge was never prosecuted.

Clemons averaged 14.2 points in 34 minutes last season for the Tigers.

Okafor never suited up for the Tigers after the NCAA declared him ineligible because he signed a contract with a professional team in Russia.

Cyriac is at home in Elizabeth, N.J., waiting to join the DePaul program as its director of basketball operations. The NCAA investigation has him in limbo, for he can’t join the Blue Demons staff until the NCAA clears him.

“He wants to be right with the NCAA, so I feel it’s correct to say he’s disappointed with the situation,” Brown said.

Despite the position with DePaul, Cyriac is checking openings in the high school and professional basketball ranks.

“I’m exploring other options right now because this could go on forever,” he said.Sarah Reesman, MU’s associate athletic director, said that no comment could be made regarding the Missouri and NCAA investigations until they been completed.

Derek Zeck, the coach at CSI from 1999 to 2001, declined to comment on the NCAA’s investigation Wednesday.

Clemons is declining all visitors and refused an interview request Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the FBI seized 28 hours of Clemons’ incoming and outgoing phone calls at the jail.

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