Just when Erick Barkley and St. John's thought their problems with the NCAA had concluded, the organization has struck again. The sophomore point guard was forced to miss the Red Storm's 66-60 win over Seton Hall Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden for what the NCAA says is a violation of the organization's rules regarding financial aid he received while a high school student at Maine Central Institute during the 1997-98 academic season.
Similar to Barkley's suspension earlier last month, St. John's was forced to rule Barkley ineligible for the game against the Pirates. The NCAA advised the school that failure to declare Barkley ineligible immediately would constitute "a serious additional infraction of NCAA regulations," according to a release issued by St. John's University.
The alleged violation involves a payment of $3,150 by Riverside Church toward Barkley's tuition at Maine Central Institute during the 1997-98 academic year. The money went towards Barkley's tuition and fees, which totaled $21,500.
St. John's completed its internal review and at about 10 a.m. Tuesday informed the NCAA it found there had been no violation. At 5:05 p.m. Tuesday the NCAA informed the university that it concluded there had been a violation.
St. John's indicated it would prefer to take action on Wednesday morning after reviewing the matter further, but the organization said the school had to declare Barkley ineligible immediately or face further sanctions, such as probation, loss of scholarships, loss of television and post-season appearances. St. John's has filed an appeal to seek Barkley's immediate reinstatement.
"I think that we (St. John's and the NCAA) divert from each other on an interpretation," said St. John's Director of Athletics Ed Manetta at a press conference during the second half of Tuesday night's game. "It's best to leave it at that and I'm sure we'll be able to discuss that at a later date."
A source close to the St. John's program said "the Riverside Church is a church and not an athletic program. The aid provided to Erick was based on his financial need as opposed to his status as an athlete. No question, Erick had a need."
Manetta informed Jarvis of the NCAA's decision at around 7 p.m. and Barkley, who was warming up with his team, was forced out of the lineup. During the game, Barkley sat next to head coach Mike Jarvis on the St. John's bench. Jarvis said while it wasn't discussed before the game, the team did have the option of not playing against Seton Hall.
"Erick decided if the guys could go and play for him, he could go cheer for them," Jarvis said. "The only question he had for me was, 'Coach, can I sit on the bench with my team where I belong?' And he did, and God is good. All the time."
The Red Storm have one game remaining in the regular season (Sunday afternoon at Miami) before the Big East tournament opens at Madison Square Garden on March 8. Manetta said an answer to the university's appeal as soon as possible.
Barkley's case is almost identical to that of Cincinnati freshman DeMarr Johnson, who was suspended one game for accepting $7,000 from his high school AAU coach for tuition to Maine Central. The NCAA declared Oklahoma State's Andre Williams ineligible for the remainder of the season for accepting $20,000 for tuition, again to MCI, from businessman and Kansas booster Tom Grant. On appeal, the penalty was reduced to five games.
"My reaction [to the NCAA's decision] was similar to, I guess, that feeling that you have for maybe a son or a daughter when they don't get something that they really wanted," Jarvis said. "And you feel for them and you cry for them."
Earlier in February, Barkley was found to be in violation of NCAA rules over a swap of sports utility vehicles with a family friend who coached Barkley in the Rucker League. The league originally suspended Barkley for three games, but after a successful appeal by St. John's, reinstated him after the point guard missed two games.
After digging itself into a a 15-point halftime hole, the Queens College men's basketball team rallied to outscore host Adelphi 52-40 in the second half, only to fall by three, 70-67, in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference quarterfinals in Garden City, L.I. Tuesday night. The eighth-seeded Knights end the season with a record of 11-16, 101-13.
Queens shot just 17.2 percent (5-29) in the first half, while No. 1 Adelphi wasn't much better at 33.3 percent (8-24) from the field. Adelphi guard Ryan McCormick led the way with 12 first half points.
Led by junior forward Steve Sikiric, the Knights rallied in the second half. The Molloy grad scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second half. On a three-pointer by sophomore point guard Phil Lyons, the Knights cut it's deficit to 70-67 with 14 seconds left in regulation. Kendell Craig missed two free throws with 13 seconds remaining, but the Knights couldn't score the game-tying three before time ran out.
Freshman Mike Leonce had his third double-double of the year, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Freshman Gary DeBerry added 10 points for the Knights, which lose in the NYCAC quarters for the third straight year. Adelphi (22-5, 20-3) was led by McCormick (18 points, five assists) and Craig (17 points).
The Knights finished the regular season strong, winning their last two games. Last Wednesday night, Queens defeated Mercy, 86-63, behind Leonce's 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Dave Trani, who was named NYCAC Player of the Week for the second time this season, had 18 points, four rebounds and three assists against Mercy.
The Knights followed up with a 79-48 drubbing of Concordia Saturday afternoon.DeBerry led the way for Queens as four players scored in double figures. The Holy Cross grad had 12 points, Lyons had 11, Sikiric added 10 points and 11 boards and Trani had 10 points for the Knights.
The Lady Knights also finished the season on a winning note, defeating Concordia, 63-54. Senior Kiki Dunston, who was named to the NYCAC second team for a second straight season, led the way with 14 points and 20 rebounds.
April Gross had 10 points and 15 boards. Antonette Tirone added 10 points on three three-pointers. Queens, which finished the season 8-18, 6-16, outrebounded Concordia, 74-33.
In a classy gesture, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed students who were camped out in "Tent City" the night before the Blue Devils clashed with St. John's and asked them not to taunt Barkley. Duke senior forward Shane Battier followed suit on a popular Blue Devils Web site.
"When Erick gets introduced, just cheer loud-he is the target of an NCAA inquisition," he said.
The fans not only obliged, they went the extra mile. About 20 minutes before the game started, the Cameron Crazies, known for being some of the loudest fans in college basketball, chanted "Stop the witch-hunt" referring to Barkley's dealings with the NCAA. When the point guard's name was called in the opening introductions, the fans cheered the former Christ the King standout.
"I was happy that they left the situation alone and really let me concentrate on playing basketball," Barkley said. "They tried to distract me in other ways. Before the game I went up to [Battier] and thanked him for his support."
The St. John's volleyball team announced the signing of two student-athletes from Hawaii. Roslyn Dang (Punahou HS) is a 5-foot-11 rightside hitter from Honolulu who brings both size and power to next year's roster.
Also committed to play for head coach Joanne Persico-Smith next season is Robyn Kurasaki (Maryknoll HS), a very versatile player who will spend time as a both outside hitter and setter. Kurasaki hails from Millani, HI.
Pablo Budna, a member of the St. John's men's soccer team and Kristine Knobel from the volleyball team, were each named to the 1999-2000 Big East Scholar-Athlete Award. Each will receive a $2,000 scholarship to be applied to their graduate studies.
Budna, a sports management major, was a two-year letterwinner for the Red Storm. The Argentine finished his soccer career with 15 goals and 10 assists, while participating in two NCAA tournaments and was part of the 1998 Big East championship team.
Knobel, also a sports management major, was the captain of the volleyball team and will leave St. John's as the all-time leader in digs (1,720) and kills (1,255).
Each Big East school selects a men's and women's Big East Scholar-Athlete. The recipients are then nominated for the respective Men's or Women's Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. The nominees must be graduating seniors intending to pursue graduate or professional studies.
St. Francis Prep grad Marcie Beauzile broke the Bentley College record in the 300 meters. In the tri-meet with Harvard and Toronto, the sophomore from South Ozone Park finished third with a time of 43.10. Beauzile, a member of the ECAC Track Honor Roll, broke the existing standard of 44.6 set by Julie Clarke in 1991.
The St. John's men's tennis team fell to 1-3 on the season with losses to Brown and Columbia last Friday. In the 5-2 loss to Columbia, the Red Storm were paced by junior Erik Sharf, who won No. 1 singles, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. Senior Jaideep Shetty was St. John's other winner, taking a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory at No. 2 singles.
The Red Storm then dropped a 6-1 decision to Brown, with junior Cameron Lore winning at No. 5 singles, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1). St. John's returns to the court to take on host Farleigh Dickinson Friday at noon.
©2000 Community News Group
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