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UCO Suspends Football Coach Amid NCAA Investigation

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ With possible NCAA sanctions hanging over the University of Central Oklahoma's football program, the university has suspended coach Chuck Langston for two weeks.

University President Roger Webb announced the suspension Tuesday in a statement that noted he was ``terribly disappointed in the football program'' and said ``the mistakes made by coach Langston ... are an embarrassment to the university.''

Webb said Langston's suspension, which began Monday, would last until Sept. 3, two days after the Bronchos open their season at home against Lone Star Conference rival Abilene Christian. During the suspension, Langston will be required to meet with UCO's compliance staff and review NCAA regulations and university compliance procedures.

He also will not be allowed to conduct off-campus recruiting activities for one year.

UCO defensive coordinator Steve Patterson will serve as the Bronchos' interim head coach while Langston serves the suspension.

The 34-year-old Langston, a former starting center for Oklahoma, is entering his fifth season as UCO's head coach. He has a 25-18 record at the school, but the Bronchos haven't had a winning season since 2004.

Langston did not immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press at his on-campus office Tuesday afternoon.

Central Oklahoma, a Division II school in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, received an NCAA notice of inquiry in October after allegations arose of possible rule violations that included impermissible inducements and extra benefits provided players by staff members.

Earlier this month, the NCAA sent Webb a letter that said its investigation had resulted in a notice of allegations and that the university ``failed to exercise institutional control and monitoring in the conduct and administration of its football program.''

Among its accusations, the NCAA claims UCO paid more than 80 athletes to attend remedial classes at Rose State College in Midwest City. The notice also said the NCAA believes UCO provided transportation to the classes and provided free housing, food, transportation and use of facilities to football players who were not full-time students at UCO.

The NCAA also accused the university of paying for a surgery for an athlete who later enrolled at the school.

Central Oklahoma has until Nov. 2 to send a response to the NCAA's allegations. That response will be considered by the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions during its meeting Dec. 7-9 in Indianapolis.

In additions to Langston's punishment, Webb said the university ``will continue to develop and implement a comprehensive system to effectively monitor the recruiting process ... in all sports, particularly football.''

Webb said he decided to suspend Langston after UCO received the notice of allegations from the NCAA.

``Early in coach Langston's tenure at this institution, he and some of his former assistants apparently made poor choices in trying to accommodate some of their new football players,'' Webb said. ``And while these errors of judgment were not malicious, and eventually ceased more than two years ago, they are not acceptable behavior for any member of the UCO athletic department.

``It has been made very clear to all coaches and personnel that UCO will follow all NCAA regulations to the letter.''

Webb said he has ``every confidence that the football program is now back on the right track.''

UCO became a provisional NCAA Division II member in 1987 and a full-fledged member in 1989. The school has never before been the subject of an NCAA investigation.

Related Story:

8/17/2007 Report: NCAA Alleges Central Oklahoma Paid Athletes
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