• 75°
franklin county times

Austin cleared by NCAA

By By Danny P. Smith / special to the Star
Dec. 11, 2002
STARKVILLE Upon further review, Mario Austin gets to play basketball for the Mississippi State Bulldogs this season.
As questions about his eligibility arose in the preseason, so did doubts the junior post player was going to be available soon for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State received word Tuesday that Austin has been released to play by the NCAA and he will be eligible for Saturday's game in New York against Xavier.
Templeton said the situation was discussed twice over the last several weeks and MSU supplied the information to the NCAA staff last Wednesday. He said there was no procedure to report directly to the committee.
The committee confirmed that Austin was an academic qualifier in 2000 coming out of Sumter County High School in York, Ala., during the meeting. The subcommittee had previously determined the NCAA initial eligibility on Austin's certification was granted in error.
Austin had been sitting out of action while the procedure was in progress. He missed the first six games of the season while the Bulldogs have managed to establish a 5-1 record without him.
As Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury has indicated, Austin's presence makes the team obviously better.
On Tuesday, Stansbury was pleased to see the ordeal end in a positive manner.
Austin led Mississippi State last season in scoring at 16.1 points per game and rebounding at 7.6 boards per outing.
During the preseason, Austin was selected to the Naismith Award watchlist and was a preseason candidate for the John R. Wooden Award All-American team.
Now he can show why he has been considered for such honors.
Stansbury appreciates all those involved in the process to clear Austin.
Templeton also expressed his appreciation to Lee, Slive and Jackson for their help and credited Austin for his maturity.
None of the players were available for their reaction Tuesday, but senior guard Derrick Zimmerman said it has been a very tough experience for Austin.
The Xavier game is set to begin at 11 a.m. and will be televised by FOX Sports.

x