MSU Waiting For NCAA Investigators

NCAA investigators will be on Mississippi State's campus next week, athletic director Larry Templeton has said. ``They'll be interviewing several of our athletes,'' Templeton told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. ``They'll be following up on self-reported violations over the last 18 months. I would guess they'll be here for a day and a half.'' Templeton also said the NCAA asked permission to inquire about other schools. Templeton declined to name the athletes scheduled to be interviewed by NCAA officials and the sport or sports involved. He said officials didn't request permission to speak to any MSU athletic staff members. Templeton said MSU's athletic department has reported 10 to 12 secondary violations in the past 18 months. ``That's not an unusual number for Mississippi State,'' said Templeton, the school's athletic director since 1987. ``It's probably a little higher than in some places.'' Secondary violations, according to the NCAA manual, are ``isolated or inadvertent in nature ... and provide only a minimal recruiting or competitive advantage.'' Major violations ``provide an extensive recruiting or competitive advantage.''

Major violations can result in stiff penalties, such as scholarship reductions and bans on post-season play. The NCAA enforcement staff and committee on infractions decide the severity of violations. Although Templeton conceded he's heard frequent rumors of an NCAA probe of MSU for several months, he didn't learn until Monday of the organization's decision to send representatives to Starkville. ``I was attending an NCAA management meeting in Rhode Island when somebody called,'' Templeton said. ``I wouldn't say I was surprised.'' Templeton wouldn't reveal which NCAA investigators will visit MSU, but he did hint strongly at who won't be coming: NCAA enforcement representative Rich Johanningmeier, who was registered at a Jackson hotel last week. Templeton said MSU hasn't received an official letter of inquiry, which would signal a full-scale NCAA investigation. He said he considers next week's interviews ``a very preliminary investigation. ``Certainly I'm concerned, but I'm comfortable with how our staff has handled this situation,'' he said. ``I don't think this is anything out of the ordinary.''