Scandal drags on for Tiger faithful

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:07 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Much has changed for the Missouri men’s basketball team since this time last year.

Gone are four lettermen and Final Four expectations.

The Hearnes Center is out, and the inexplicably named, beautifully constructed, Paige Sports Arena is in.

Jeff Meyer and former Texas A&M coach Melvin Watkins replace Tony Harvey and Lane Odom on coach Quin Snyder’s staff.

But the biggest story of the previous season lingers. The Tigers are still waiting for the NCAA to conclude its investigation of possible violations committed by the program.

The investigation officially began on Sept. 24, 2003, and many Missouri fans think the NCAA is taking an unnecessarily long time to determine the Tigers’ punishment.

“It’s pretty incredible the whole process has taken this long,” Keith Randle, a Missouri season-ticket holder, said. “The NCAA keeps saying it’s going to end, but it never does.”

The Missouri athletic department, on the other hand, seems more concerned with receiving a fair resolution than a quick one.

Sarah Reesman, Missouri’s associate athletics director, said she will be happy when the investigation is over, but she doesn’t feel the NCAA is being unfair.

“They haven’t given us any indication on the timeframe, but many cases around the country take much, much longer,” she said. “I would not characterize this as a long investigation.”

Still, to many fans, the saga of Ricky Clemons began eons ago.

Clemons, a former Missouri guard, has made several allegations against the team following his dismissal on July 22, 2003. Clemons said Harvey gave him $250, and that former players Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding also received money from Missouri coaches.

If Clemons’ allegations are substantiated, the Tigers would likely face heavy punishment from the NCAA, including banishment from postseason play.

But everyone, including the NCAA, realizes anything Clemons says must be taken with a boatload of salt.

He said Jessica Bunge wasn’t his girlfriend before admitting she was while pleading guilty to assaulting her.

Clemons also told the media his mother was killed in a drunken-driving accident even though she was alive in North Carolina.

Clemons’ credibility, or lack thereof, is an example of why the NCAA works deliberately in these investigations.

“The NCAA and the institution involved will do their best to make sure all information pertinent to the case is revealed,” Jeff Howard, the NCAA’s managing director of public and media relations, said. “At times, this process requires interviews with individuals across the country. These things can take time, but the (NCAA) is committed to making sure any investigation is done as timely as possible.”

Randle said the length of the investigation shows the NCAA has little definitive evidence supporting Missouri’s most serious allegations.

“If (the NCAA) had a Pandora’s Box, wouldn’t they have opened it by now?” he said. “I think the NCAA knows it has nothing on us and is just dragging this thing out to make us look bad.”

Honestly, neither I nor anyone else in the media knows what the Tigers’ fate will be. The NCAA and the university are giving us extremely limited details.

With that said, maybe Missouri fans should hope the Tigers get a just decision, not a swift one.

I don’t think Tiger Nation would like the NCAA rushing through its investigation and believing everything Clemons says without searching for the facts.

OK, enough with the NCAA.

In fact, why don’t Missouri fans talk about basketball for a change?

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