Kansas State's Jamar Samuels out

Updated: March 17, 2012, 7:43 PM ET
By Dana O'Neil | ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- Kansas State held Jamar Samuels out Saturday from its 75-59 loss to top-seeded Syracuse because of an eligibility concern, saying a review was under way and that the NCAA was involved.

Curtis Malone, the founder of the DC Assault AAU organization, told the Topeka Capital-Journal he sent money to Samuels before the NCAA tournament but said it wasn't an impermissible benefit because he already had developed a relationship with Samuels and his mother.

"I don't just give a kid money," Malone told the newspaper. "According to a case, if Jamar don't have any money or the kid don't have any money during the week and he asks me can I give him a few dollars, you know, I'll do that.

"If that was a benefit, then I don't really see how. It's the same way when he played with DC Assault on road trips. When he didn't have money to eat, he ate."

A source told the Capital-Journal the amount of money Samuels received was $200.

"This is something that has come up rapidly in the last 24 hours," athletics director John Currie said before the game. "We are working diligently to solve it."

Currie told CBS Sports the issue was not academic-related, nor did it stem from the team's Pittsburgh stay, the network reported during its broadcast of the game.

[+] EnlargeJamar Samuels
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesKansas State AD John Currie told CBS Sports that Jamar Samuels' eligibility issue did not stem from academics or the team's Pittsburgh stay.

"What took place, as we found out last night, was unfortunate," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "As a university, we have to take a stance and protect our university. Unfortunately, it put him in a tough spot."

Currie wouldn't address concerns that eighth-seeded Kansas State could be punished retroactively if it used an ineligible player during the season.

"In my opinion, he's done nothing wrong," said Martin, who also declined to provide details on the nature of the issue. "You always have to err on the side of caution and not do something and look back on it and then regret your decision.''

Other Kansas State players, including current guard Rodney McGruder and the Minnesota Timberwolves' Michael Beasley, also came to Kansas State from Malone's DC Assault, according to the Capital-Journal.

"I've always had a good relationship with all of those kids: Rodney, Dominique Sutton, Jamar Samuels, all of them that were out there. Ron Anderson. All those kids played for my program," Malone told the Capital-Journal. "I don't understand what benefits are being given. I have kids all across the country."

Samuels, who was in attendance for Saturday's game at Consol Energy Center, was suspended for the Wildcats' first two regular-season games for a violation of team rules. He had started every game since.

"I told him, 'If this is the worst thing that ever happens to you in your lifetime, you're going to be one of the luckiest human beings to ever walk on the face of the earth,' '' Martin said.

The Wildcats started freshman Thomas Gipson in place of Samuels.

On Thursday, the senior, who averages 10 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game, had just one point in the Wildcats' 70-64 victory against Southern Mississippi.

Syracuse also played short-handed. Earlier in the week, the university announced Fab Melo was ineligible and would not be available for the Orange for the rest of the season.

Sources have told ESPN.com that Melo's problems are academic-related to an issue that forced the sophomore to miss three games in January.

Dana O'Neil | email

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