Originally created 03/02/00

NCAA slams St. John's claims of unfair treatment



The NCAA rebuked St. John's University for saying it had been treated unfairly during the investigation of sophomore guard Erick Barkley's eligibility.

"In media accounts today, St. John's had given the appearance that the NCAA is holding up the process. Quite the contrary," NCAA president Cedric Dempsey said in a statement.

"What held up the process is that the university did not provide information necessary to make an interpretation of NCAA legislation. The university has known there was concern about the eligibility of one of its student-athletes since February 17."

Barkley was declared ineligible Tuesday over how part of his tuition and fees was paid for the 1997-98 academic year at Maine Central Institute. It was the second time this season he was declared ineligible over NCAA rules violations. He missed two games in early February for exchanging vehicles with a family friend.

St. John's released a statement during Tuesday night's 66-60 victory over Seton Hall, in which Barkley did not play, that said it had concluded its investigation into the tuition matter and found no violations. The NCAA disagreed and told the school to declare him ineligible immediately.

"I don't believe it's in anyone's best interest that there be public disagreement about issues taking place between the NCAA and a member school," Dempsey said.

"The university's accusation of an NCAA `guilt before innocence' stance is inaccurate," Dempsey said. "St. John's also has stated it does not believe violations have occurred. ... When a university disagrees with an interpretation of rules, it can take the issue to an interpretation committee for review. St. John's declined to utilize this process."

He also said St. John's failed to provide its final report to the NCAA until late Tuesday.

St. John's stood by the statement it issued Tuesday night.

"I can understand why the NCAA felt the need to defend the process," St. John's athletic director Ed Manetta said. "I've read the press release and I have no further comment other than to reiterate the statement we issued last night, which is accurate.

"Our focus now is getting Erick Barkley reinstated. We will work with the NCAA to come to a resolution."

In its release St. John's said the nature of the alleged violation was that Riverside Church, an AAU program for which Barkley played, provided him with support in the amount of $3,150 out of fees and tuition totalling $21,500.