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McPherson's plans take another twist

Ex-FSU quarterback will withdraw from Murray State.

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 17, 2003


Former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson will withdraw from Murray State less than a week after enrolling in classes and return to Bradenton, his mother told the Times.

"Adrian has things to take care of at home," Henrietta McPherson said Thursday afternoon. "When he does that, he can make his choice of where he wants to go and my husband and I won't have any problem with that. He needs to be a man and take on his own responsibilities. He will. He will be here."

She said her son, who faces criminal charges as well as an investigation into rumors of gambling in Tallahassee, will be home Saturday.

"That was the first flight I could get him," she said.

Henrietta McPherson said neither she nor her husband, Floyd, knows what happened during Adrian's recruiting visit to Murray State last weekend, which culminated with him enrolling in classes. She said her son left a voicemail message for her that he liked it there and was staying.

"Adrian is at a very vulnerable state," she said.

McPherson, 19, a sophomore, has several friends on the Racers' team, including running back Ron Lane (Bradenton Bayshore). At a Division I-AA program like Murray State, McPherson would not have had to sit out a year in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. He could have been eligible to play football next fall.

But Murray State athletic director E.W. Dennison said he told McPherson in no uncertain terms that he was there only as a student and not as a member of any athletic team until his situation that prompted his dismissal from FSU's football team on Nov. 25 was resolved.

"He needs to be in a good environment, get an education and if he gets to play ball, that's a bonus," Dennison said early Thursday.

He did not know at the time that the McPhersons had decided Adrian should leave.

Murray State likely will not be able to sever the brief relationship quickly.

The Kentucky school has launched an internal investigation into allegations by the McPhersons that coach Joe Pannunzio improperly recruited their son. Henrietta McPherson, reasserting the complaints in a series of letters her son's attorney, Grady Irvin, sent to Murray State and the NCAA, said the coach came to their home in mid December and took her son to a local steakhouse for dinner.

NCAA rules forbid any contact by a coach with a prospective transfer without first obtaining written permission from the player's first school regardless of who makes the initial overture. FSU released McPherson from his scholarship Jan. 7.

"We're doing all the due diligence we can do," Dennison said, adding that his school notified the NCAA of its probe within hours of receiving Irvin's letter Wednesday. "We don't want to be victimized by rumors."

He said Pannunzio refutes the charge, but his investigation, which includes checking credit card receipts and travel records, has been handcuffed by Irvin's unwillingness to make McPherson's parents available to answer questions.

"They will not speak to Murray State but gladly will respond to any questions from the NCAA," Irvin said. "And they are eager to do so."

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