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Friday, October 30, 2009
Bryant, attorney met with NCAA

By Joe Schad

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant had an attorney with him for all three interview sessions with the NCAA, a spokesperson for the governing body said Friday.

The NCAA was responding to criticisms from Bryant that he may have been unprepared to handle the inquiries and criticism that the one-year penalty may have been excessive.

"There have been some reported misrepresentations of the NCAA interview process by Mr. Bryant and the media," spokesperson Stacey Osburn wrote. "According to established NCAA procedures, student-athletes and coaches are reminded verbally and in the documentation of their obligation to be truthful. Student-athletes and any other involved individuals may also have representation present with them throughout the interview process.

"Mr. Bryant did have an attorney present during all three interviews with the NCAA. In fact, at one point during his first interview he was allowed to step outside with his attorney to converse and was then reminded again of his obligation to be truthful when he came back on the record."

Bryant, one of the nation's top wide receivers, had his eligibility reinstated this week, but will not be allowed to return to action until September 2010, pending an appeal. Bryant was ruled ineligible after lying to an NCAA investigator about dining and working out with former pro football player Deion Sanders, who said he is Bryant's mentor.

"Our members have clearly spoken on the importance of honesty in athletics and expect all student-athletes and administrators to follow the principals of ethical conduct," Osburn wrote. "These rules are in place to ensure integrity in the investigative process, and by extension to ensure a level playing field."

Osburn said Bryant's punishment had nothing to do with his high-profile status.

"NCAA rules are applied equally to all individuals regardless of national prominence or level of athletic ability," Osburn wrote. "Not only does this mean that gifted athletes are not granted exceptions based on their ability, but they are also not punished any harder than other student-athletes to 'set an example."

The NCAA also stated all rules are created by its members and if a school or conference does not believe an established rule is fair, it could propose change.

Bryant, a junior who has not been practicing with the Cowboys while ineligible, is expected to enter the next NFL draft.

Joe Schad is a national college football reporter for ESPN.