NCAA Wraps Up Talks With Bulldog Athletes

NCAA investigators wrapped up interviews with athletes at Mississippi State on Wednesday, talking with one player and three recruits. Talks on Thursday were scheduled with school officials.

Investigators on Tuesday had interviewed senior wide receiver Terrell Grindle, senior defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, senior cornerback Demetric Wright and redshirt freshman safety Clarence McDougal.

On Wednesday, the NCAA staff talked with sophomore wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines and three freshman - fullback Willie Evans, tailback Jerious Norwood and safety Darren Williams, according to The Clarion-Ledger newspaper of Jackson.

One of the NCAA investigators is Rick Johanningmeier, who was also registered at a Jackson hotel about two weeks ago. Wright and Kelly were both mentioned in a letter from former Ole Miss athletic director John Shafer to former Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer.

In the letter, dated Oct. 30 and recently made public, Shafer questioned how the players - both junior college transfers who failed to qualify academically at Ole Miss - qualified academically at Mississippi State. Shafer told The Associated Press on Thursday that he had written the letter "a couple of years ago'' and did not know what the SEC did with it. He said he had thought no more about the letter because "they both played against us last year.''

This is the second time in the past year that the NCAA has interviewed Mississippi State athletes. Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton said this week that the MSU athletic department self-reported "probably 10 to 12'' of what he termed "secondary violations'' over the last 18 months.

Bivines, who played at Gautier, caught 14 passes last season after redshirting in 2000. He chose MSU over Mississippi, Arkansas and LSU.

Evans committed to Southern Miss before his senior season at Wayne County, but changed his commitment to MSU in January and signed with the Bulldogs in February.

Brandon's Norwood and Clarksdale's Williams were widely considered Mississippi's top two recruits last season. Norwood committed to MSU in June 2001. Williams did the same three months later. Both players continued to be actively recruited after publicly announcing their nonbinding commitments.