story behind the Clemons incident
NOTES FROM MIZZOU BASKETBALL
Looking down on Norm Stewart Court at the Hearnes Field
House before Tuesdays game with Iowa State, a vision
came back. The Tigers used to have their bench just in
front of where the Norm Stewart Court is written into
the hardwood on the west end. I thought I had recalled
it correctly. Why now, I wondered out loud, is the visiting
team sitting on the west side of the court instead of
the Tigers. My question was answered.
Two years ago when the court was dedicated to Norm,
the friendly scribe in the press box told me, was
when the Tigers shifted ends. The next question
is Why? The consensus answer was Dollar Bill
Laurie. You see it was Laurie, the anonymous one,
who was contemplating, at that time, a $25 million donation
to jump-start the new, yet unnamed arena. Laurie, who
showed more ability in choosing a wife than he did on
the basketball court, still smarts from being snubbed
at MU and had to take his basketball talents to Memphis,
but his pocket book wife he found in Bentonville, Arkansas.
"Does Missouri have any spine at all, another
scribe to my left asked? Sure they have spine,
someone said, and the marrow is all green
green as in greenbacks.
Ricky Clemons returned to the Tiger lineup Tuesday night
after being suspended for the Oklahoma State blowout of
Missouri on Saturday night. Clemons was accused by a female-friend
(is that an oxy moron?) of restraining her. I thought
it might be interesting to see just what the Media Relations
Department for the Tigers had to say about the sequence
of events that created a whirlwind of activity at the
Hearnes Center after the alleged occurrence Thursday evening.
According to Chad Moller, director and his assistant,
Sam Fluery, his able assistant in charge of basketball
PR, here is basically what occurred.
*The offense was allegedly committed Thursday evening
between 9 and 10 p.m.
*The next day, Friday, Clemons was practicing with the
Tigers as usual in a workout that would precede their
8 p.m. departure on a chartered flight to Stillwater to
play the Cowboys the next afternoon.
*Around 3 p.m., as the practice was winding down Fluery
got a call from Rod Smith, Sports Director of KRCG-TV
in Jefferson City. The call said Clemons was in trouble
with the Columbia, Missouri police and wanted to know
if Fluery had any information.
*Fluery, according to Moller, was blindsided.
No one had a clue or an inkling that over 17 hours previously
the alleged occurrence occurred.
*Fluery huddled with Moller as well as with Athletic
Director Mike Alden, Coach Quin Snyder and their staff.
The phone calls went out as each tried to find out what
the heck is going on.
*About the same time the athletic department got a call
from the Columbia police that they wanted Clemons to come
to the police station. The exact nature of what was explained
in that call is uncertain.
*This situation was very unique, explained
Moller, for the team and Sam were getting ready
to go to the airport to leave for Stillwater and all of
a sudden this problem was here for us to determine what
was going on. There was very little time and although
all of us had been on the phones trying to find out what
was going on, we didnt have enough information to
*After gathering as many facts as they could, the Senior
Basketball Management Team (Alden, Snyder, Moller
and their staffs), gave the information to Coach Snyder
who made the decision to not allow Clemons to make the
Stillwater trip. His boss, AD Alden, backed Snyders
*Our phones were ringing off the hook by this time,
said Moller, fans and press were getting wind of
what was going on and they wanted explanations.
*Snyder scribbled out an explanation on notepaper
that we were to work over. We did that, passed it between
Alden and Snyder and their staffs and released the information
that Ricky had been suspended for the Saturday afternoon
*"Whew!!!!, according to Moller, the phones
kept ringing. We were bombarded with calls.
*Fluery, in his third year with the PR arm of MU and
his first on the job as head of the basketball PR, had
his first firestorm to deal with.
*Did Fluery panic, Moller was asked? No, not at
all. You have to remember that we have over 200 young
student athletes and kids have problems, not just athletes.
*Star columnist Jason Whitlock wrote in his piece on Tuesday
that MU had done Clemons a disservice by reinstating him.
When prodded, Moller said, to the best of my knowledge
Jason did not talk to anyone on the Sports Information
staff before he wrote that column. But, he reminded,
Jason is a columnist, not a reporter.
*Fluery, back to the more normal things of taking care
of the media during the Iowa State game, paused for a
second saying, I must have received over 200 calls
on the Clemons thing. My phone rang off the hook and was
buzzing in my pocket. I didnt start out counting
calls but it had to be 200. I did count between 8:30 and
10 a.m. on Sunday and I had 37 calls during that period
on my cell phone alone.
*So much for the busy life of a sports information guy
during a hectic weekend at MU.
So now, what about the Iowa State game? Let it best be
said that a very exciting, very physical Cyclones team
gave the Tigers all they wanted before Mizzou prevailed
64-59. Reinstated, Clemons started and played 39 minutes
during the game and had a poor shooting night (He
tried too many circus shots early on,) but finished
strong with 15 points and a good floor game.
Arthur Johnson had another double/double with 21 points
and 11 rebounds and was the favorite of the 11,627 fans
Missouri (now 2-1 in Big XII play and 11-3 overall),
travels to Texas to play the number 4 ranked Longhorns