LOS ANGELES -- Suspended UCLA basketball player JaRon Rush has admitted to university officials that he accepted money from an agent in violation of NCAA rules, it was reported Tuesday.
The agent, Jerome Stanley of Los Angeles, denies having anything more than a friendship with the sophomore forward.
"That's not true," Stanley was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times. "I did not give him any money at all. Zero."
Stanley said he told university administrators the same thing last week.
Rush, who averaged 11.4 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds for the Bruins last season, has been suspended from competition since Dec. 10 while the school investigates a possible NCAA violation.
Rush averaged 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in three games this season before being suspended.
Rush did not accompany the 18th-ranked Bruins to Hawaii for the Pearl Harbor Classic, which began Tuesday. Instead, he returned home to Kansas City, Mo., for the holidays. The three tournament games will bring to five the number Rush has missed while on suspension.
It was announced last week that Rush will probably be allowed to rejoin the team for practice after Christmas, even though the direction of the investigation is uncertain.
The Times said sources "close to the situation" have confirmed that Rush acknowledged improper ties when UCLA officials confronted him about relationships with Stanley and former AAU coach Myron Piggie.
The newspaper said Rush's grandmother, Jeanette Jacobs, confirmed a published report that Rush admitted to her that he took four payments of $50 each from Stanley.
Jacobs said she had dinner with Rush after the Bruins lost to Gonzaga on Dec. 11.
"The guy (Stanley) is saying it didn't happen. If it wasn't true, why would (Rush) say it?" Jacobs said. "(Rush) was just telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And see what it got him."
Piggie, his former coach, also has said he has not provided money to Rush since he's been at UCLA or introduced him to a sports agent.
The Orange County Register reported a few days after the suspension was announced that a grand jury is investigating Piggie on suspicion of income-tax evasion, fraud and money laundering. Rush returned last month to Kansas City to testify in Piggie's case.
According to the Times, unidentified sources said a U.S. attorney from the Western District of Missouri met with an FBI agent and UCLA athletic director Peter Dalis a day before Rush was suspended.
Dalis has said Rush's status will be determined when the school completes its investigation.
"Our investigation is continuing, and we're not commenting on the matter until it's completed," UCLA sports information director Marc Dellins said Tuesday.
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