Pope cleared to play after brief suspension


Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Back in Red and Black: Senior forward Malik Pope runs the court during the Aztecs 91-50 win over San Diego Christian on Nov. 10 at Viejas Arena

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

Men’s basketball senior guard Malik Pope has been cleared to play in the Aztecs upcoming home game against Boise State tonight.

This comes only three days after being provisionally suspended by the team after reports surfaced that his name appeared in a document detailing loans given out by the sports agency, ASM Sports.

“Malik Pope will play tonight,” head coach Brian Dutcher said, per a news release from San Diego State Aztecs Media Relations. “I am grateful to (athletic director) John David Wicker and (associate athletic director of compliance) Andy Humes for their support in getting this resolved quickly.”

In the documents, which were exposed in a story by Yahoo Sports, Pope was named along with 30 other current and former players who received loans from the agency of former NBA agent Andy Miller.

Pope was listed on the document as receiving $1,400 in loans during his 2015-16 sophomore season, which would be considered as an impermissible benefit by the NCAA and violate its “amateurism” rules.

Pope denied any involvement in the situation, releasing this statement that was included in the press release:

“I, along with my family, have never had contact nor accepted anything from the two people named in the story,” Pope said in the statement. “Since the report, I have worked with our compliance office to show that I have not broken any NCAA rules. I want to thank the San Diego State community for their support and faith in me during this process. I look forward to joining my teammates on the court this week for our final two regular season games.”

Complicating the matter with the documents was that while they were leaked to the public, they are still officially under judicial seal while defendants who were indicted in September await trial.

Since the NCAA does not have official access to the documents, the only thing SDSU could do was run an internal investigation.

Heading up the internal investigation was SDSU’s compliance director Andy Humes.

“Due to the timing and nature of an allegation regarding Malik Pope that first appeared in an online article on February 23, 2018, it was determined to be in the best interest of Malik, the men’s basketball program and SDSU, to withhold Malik from the team’s competition on February 24 while an internal investigation was conducted,” Humes said in a statement.

“SDSU’s investigation has found no evidence that Malik received any impermissible benefits or violated any NCAA rules,” Humes said. “The NCAA Enforcement staff has been apprised of the internal investigation’s findings. Lastly, Malik and the men’s basketball staff have cooperated fully and willingly with SDSU at all times throughout the process.”

SDSU plays Boise State tonight at 8:00 pm as the team continues to battle for fifth place in the Mountain West Conference and a subsequent first round bye in the upcoming MW tournament starting on March 7.

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