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Clemons alleges payment

Report: On tape, ex-Missouri player says coaches gave him money

Posted: Wednesday December 10, 2003 4:01PM; Updated: Wednesday December 10, 2003 4:08PM
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  Ricky Clemons
Ricky Clemons played just one season for Missouri before being suspended from the team.
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Former Missouri basketball player Ricky Clemons said in taped jail telephone conversations that two assistant coaches gave money to him and other players, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported on its Web site.

Clemons also said he was told during a conversation with his attorney and one of the assistants to deny having received cash if a prosecutor asked about it, the newspaper reported Tuesday night.

The tapes were released to the Tribune and to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which also posted reports on the contents on its Web site early Wednesday, by Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm.

Missouri coach Quin Snyder said in a statement released Tuesday night that he and his assistant coaches couldn't discuss the allegations because NCAA and internal university investigations -- both previously reported -- are still under way.

"As tough as it is for me personally not to respond, and for my coaches not to respond, I cannot discuss these allegations," Snyder said. "As I have said all along, I respect the process of the investigation and until the university and the NCAA reach the conclusion of this process, I will not comment on individual allegations or stories."

Athletic director Mike Alden issued a statement saying that the contents of the taped conversations "represent only a small part of the review that is taking place."

"Our basketball program has fully cooperated with the investigation and respects the due diligence that has taken place," Alden said. "I am confident in Coach Snyder's management of the Mizzou basketball program and I believe that he will address any problem areas that have been identified through this review process."

Clemons could not be reached for comment. But his former attorney, Wally Bley, of Columbia, told The Associated Press he never told Clemons to lie.

The Tribune reported it reviewed 24 hours of taped calls Clemons made from the Boone County Jail between July 16 and Aug. 14, when the former player was serving a sentence for two misdemeanors arising from a choking incident involving his former girlfriend, Jessica Bunge.

On the tapes, Clemons is also heard saying at least two other players -- senior stars Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding, a preseason All-American -- also received money from an assistant coach.

On Wednesday, Paulding and Johnson issued identical statements through the athletic department denying that accusation.

"All I can say is that we have not ever received any impermissible benefits, including cash, from any of our coaches," the statements read.

Boehm, who released the tapes, declined comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday evening. Media organizations had asked Boehm for the tapes last summer, but the sheriff said then that he couldn't release them because they were part of an ongoing FBI investigation.

The Post-Dispatch reported on its Web site Tuesday night that the FBI has ended its investigation and will not file criminal charges. The FBI told the newspaper, which added information on the tapes and their content early Wednesday, that it had looked into a tip that someone tried to intimidate a witness in the criminal case against Clemons, and that Clemons was not the target of the FBI probe.

The Post-Dispatch also reported that the NCAA is expected to review the tapes of Clemons' phone conversations while he was jailed.

Bunge told investigators in the domestic assault case that Clemons told her he received cash during visits to the Hearnes Center, the Tigers' arena. Asked about the accusation in a sworn deposition last March, Missouri assistant coach Lane Odom denied under oath any knowledge of payments to Clemons.

But in a telephone conversation from jail with Amy Stewart, the wife of Missouri Associate Athletic Director Ed Stewart, Clemons said while Bunge never saw him receive any money, the ex-girlfriend did deposit the money into the bank for him.

"She took it to the bank?" Amy Stewart asked, according to the Tribune.

"Yeah," Clemons replied, "because when I would get it from him and give it to her, and she would take it to the bank. So she, she knew everything. I never tried to hide nothing."

Clemons also said assistant coach Tony Harvey gave money to Johnson and Paulding, the Tribune reported.

"When I first got here, they did, they did everybody. I mean, they do A.J. and Rickey. If they need money, they'd go to Harvey. He, he'd get it for 'em," the newspaper quoted Clemons as telling Amy Stewart.

Odom and Harvey did not return phone messages left at their homes Tuesday night by the AP. Missouri basketball spokesman Sam Fleury said both assistants were still on Snyder's coaching staff.

Clemons, a junior-college transfer, was arrested in late January after he allegedly choked Bunge in a headlock and refused to let her leave his Columbia apartment for more than an hour. He was suspended from the team for a year, with conditions imposed by Snyder and Alden for his eventual return.

But Clemons was kicked off the team in July after a judge determined he violated conditions for serving his sentence in a halfway house and ordered him to jail, where Clemons was able to make collect calls. This fall, he re-enrolled at Missouri but isn't playing basketball.

In another conversation with Amy Stewart, Clemons contended he was told during a meeting with Odom and Bley at the attorney's Columbia office to deny any knowledge of receiving money or clothes. Snyder has acknowledged giving Clemons a couple of pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants he received as promotional gifts and planned to discard. Bunge has alleged Snyder gave Clemons far more clothing than that.

"Wally and Lane was there in his office downtown, and he was like, 'If they ask you anything about some money or some clothes, you say no,"' Clemons told Stewart. "And then coach Snyder talked to me and he knew that they was going to find a lot of clothes because they took the shoes from her house. So he knew they were gonna find it so he couldn't lie about that. So he went ahead and told them about the clothes because he said they asked -- 'yeah, you can tell them that I gave you, you know, a little bit of clothes.'"

Bley told the AP: "I would never tell him or any client to lie and did not tell him to lie." He added that he is no longer representing Clemons, but could not discuss any meetings with Clemons because Clemons has not waived the confidentiality of their past attorney-client relationship.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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