Alfredo (Tito) Horford, the highly recruited 7-foot freshman center from the Dominican Republic, was "permanently dismissed" from the Louisiana State University basketball team by Coach Dale Brown for missing practice Friday and a team scrimmage Saturday.
Brown, in a prepared statement, said "the recruitment of Tito Horford is by far the most unusual I've ever seen in 20 years of coaching." He also said other schools were guilty of tampering with Horford after he had enrolled at LSU.
Brown, in a telephone interview from Baton Rouge, told The Washington Post that "other universities or a university -- I'm not going to be specific -- have tampered with this young man. They have talked to him face to face and encouraged him to transfer."
Brown declined to name the school or schools involved, saying he will make a full report to the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA. A source told The Post that American University, one of many schools that had initially recruited Horford, was among the schools to which Brown was referring.
American Coach Ed Tapscott said in September that he had "direct knowledge of cheating on two schools" from conversations he had with Horford. He also said at the time, "This is perhaps the worst recruiting situation in history."
Tapscott declined any comment on the situation last night.
"There is just about everything you can think of in this case," Brown said. "Tampering, agents talking to him. It's a mess."
Horford came to Louisiana State after he was ruled ineligible to play at the University of Houston because of a recruiting violation.
He missed practice Friday for what Brown described as "personal reasons." Brown said he originally planned to suspend Horford for the first semester, but when Horford did not show up for a scrimmage Saturday, he decided to make it permanent.
Team captain Nikita Wilson, a friend of Horford, said he believed the freshman wanted to leave the university. "Maybe he got a little confused," Wilson told the Associated Press. "He had no one to turn to and made the decision he wanted to leave . . . I think he did it on the spur of the moment."
When asked at a press conference in Baton Rouge whether tampering was any influence on Horford's personal problems, Brown said, "I assume that there must have been. There has been direct tampering with him. All I can tell you is we are turning over all of our information to the NCAA and to the Southeastern Conference."
Brown refused to discuss what the personal problems might be, but said, "(Horford) came here with 12 pesos. There was a lot of pressure on him that created personal problems."
Brown said he has no idea where Horford is or whether he plans to stay at Louisiana State but that he did talk to Horford's family today and "they apologized for any inconvenience."
Brown said he didn't know if Horford could enroll at another school immediately. "I believe Nov. 8 is the deadline for withdrawing if he is passing. I also understand that if he goes to another university, he would have to sit out a full year, but this is complicated and I'm not real sure.
"There may even be problems with immigration because I believe he has to make his grades to stay in this country. This case might revolutionize the present recruiting system, which is not working."
Horford had signed a letter of intent with Houston a year ago, and had enrolled there pending a final appeal to the NCAA. A hearing on that appeal was scheduled Oct. 26, but he failed to show up there. Instead, he surfaced at LSU.