NCAA responds to Baylor

A day after ruling Baylor freshman Perry Jones ineligible for accepting improper benefits, the NCAA said Thursday the school was wrong in criticizing how the case was handled and suggesting there were similarities to problems at Auburn and Ohio State.

Jones was ruled out for the rest of the season a few hours before the Bears lost to Oklahoma without him in the Big 12 tournament Wednesday night. The NCAA determined he and his family received improper benefits from an AAU coach before enrolling at Baylor.

Baylor issued a release after the ruling Wednesday in which athletic director Ian McCaw said the decision appeared “to be inconsistent with other recent widely discussed NCAA decisions.” In a later TV interview, McCaw referenced cases involving the Ohio State and Auburn football teams this past season.

McCaw declined comment Thursday. But the NCAA said Baylor “is off base, related to timing, process and precedent.”

The school has said Jones had no knowledge of three, 15-day loans between his mother and AAU coach that were provided while Jones was in high school. The loans were repaid in a timely manner, according to interviews conducted by Baylor officials and the NCAA staff.

Jones’ AAU coach also paid for the player’s travel to an NFL preseason game in San Diego before he got to Baylor.

The NCAA said Thursday it notified Baylor of potential eligibility issues with Jones on multiple occasions in January.

“Regarding comparisons to other cases, each situation is different and has a different set of facts. In this specific case, the student-athlete and his family actually received benefits, including a trip, with the total benefit amount of more than $4,100,” the NCAA said. “This sets the case apart from the (Auburn quarterback Cam) Newton case, where there was no sufficient evidence of benefits being provided or direct involvement by the student-athlete.”

Most of that $4,100 is for the repaid loans.

Auburn won the BCS national championship with Newton, who was declared ineligible by the school and then reinstated by the NCAA after there was no evidence that the Heisman Trophy winner knew his father was seeking money for his son to sign with Mississippi State, or that the quarterback received anything.

In the other case cited by McCaw, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four teammates were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl after being suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling jerseys, championship rings and trophies to a local tattoo parlor owner.

Baylor has appealed to have Jones’ eligibility reinstated, but a hearing hadn’t yet been scheduled. The Bears (18-13) seem likely to get an NIT bid next week a year after a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

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