On July 22 Missouri athletic director Mike Alden informed senior
guard Ricky Clemons that the school was revoking his scholarship.
The degree to which Missouri mishandled Clemons's case is
reflected in the setting where Alden delivered the news: the
Boone County Jail, where Clemons was serving the remainder of a
60-day sentence for misdemeanor assault and false imprisonment.
Clemons landed in jail after he violated curfew at a halfway
house in Columbia, Mo., and crashed his ATV near the home of
Missouri president Elson Floyd. The Tigers could have saved a lot
of face had they cut Clemons loose in April after he pleaded
guilty to reduced charges following his arrest for hitting and
choking his former girlfriend in January. Clemons, who was third
on the team in scoring last season (14.2 ppg), was suspended for
the upcoming season after he pleaded guilty, but he remained on
Making matters worse, this spring Missouri coach Quin Snyder
asked Floyd to serve as a mentor to Clemons. That blew up in
Floyd's face on July 4, when Clemons attended a dinner at the
president's house. (Clemons had told Floyd he wasn't due back at
the halfway house until 10:30 p.m., when he was actually due back
at 5:00 and had also falsely listed the need to attend class as
his reason for signing out.)
Alden did not help the university's image on the day he revoked
Clemons's scholarship: After a reporter asked him what he had to
say to Clemons's victim, he replied, "There's a lot of victims."
Alden later told SI, "I wouldn't necessarily agree that this has
hurt the program. It was just unfortunate the way it turned out."
The Clemons fiasco has overshadowed what would otherwise be a
summer of promise for Missouri. Last Friday senior center Arthur
Johnson and senior guard Rickey Paulding were named to the U.S.
Pan Am Games team that will compete in the Dominican Republic
next month. In May, Missouri's top incoming recruit, 6'8" forward
Linas Kleiza, was the leading scorer (29.5 ppg) at the world
junior championships in Greece. Missouri could be ranked in the
Top 5 at the start of the season, but Snyder knows the Tigers
will only fulfill those expectations if they can minimize their
off-court problems. "Our efforts might have been misplaced with
Ricky, but overall our program embodies good qualities," Snyder
says. "I feel like we're on the right track."
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Snyder is sorry to see Clemons (inset, left) go, but he has astud recruit in Kleiza.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO [See caption above]
COLOR PHOTO: LINDA SPILLERS/WIREIMAGE/ICON SMI [See caption above]