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 scholarship.
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."