Alabama Football Probe Expands

Wednesday, January 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — An NCAA investigation into Alabama's football program concerning the recruitment of a player has expanded to include two more players.

Alabama officials working with the NCAA are looking into the recruitment of Osceola (Ark.) High running back Harold James Jr. and Florida High player Michael Gaines of Tallahassee.

Osceola High School principal Doug Caldwell said Wednesday that investigators questioned him, an assistant principal, a counselor, the school superintendent and athletic director last week about the recruitment of James.

He said investigators from Alabama were investigating the recruitment of Albert Means of Memphis, Tenn.

Means, a defensive tackle, transferred from Alabama to the University of Memphis following a recent claim that his high school coach in Memphis was paid $200,000, allegedly by Alabama boosters to steer Means to Tuscaloosa.

The Mobile Register reported Wednesday on the expansion of the NCAA probe to include James and Gaines.

James signed with the Crimson Tide last February but Alabama academic officers delayed his enrollment. He eventually played mostly on special teams.

Gaines arrived at Tuscaloosa during summer workouts but was never allowed to enroll after his academic eligibility was examined. Florida High's principal was attending a conference Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

In Arkansas, Caldwell said Alabama faculty athletics representative Gene Marsh and associate athletics director for compliance Marie Robbins visited the school last Monday. Marsh declined to comment.

``We would never speak as far as an academic issue for an athlete, be it good or bad,'' Robbins said.

Marsh and Robbins asked about James' academic status and Osceola High's new athletic facility, called the Logan Young Family Athletic Complex, Caldwell said.

Caldwell said the school provided documentation to the Alabama officials that showed James needed extra time to take the ACT test for unspecified medical reasons.

``We just opened our door and let them talk to anybody they wanted to,'' Caldwell said in a telephone interview.

Memphis businessman Logan Young, a prominent Alabama booster who is from Osceola, donated a portion of the money used to build the new athletic facility, which contains a girls' gymnasium and workout areas for baseball, football and gymnastics.

Caldwell told The Associated Press that the gym was built with money donated from the community, including a steel mill that gave the beams, and that Young pledged about $200,000 over a five-year span.

Young's name has been mentioned in published reports regarding the investigation that began in November into Means' recruitment, but he has denied any involvement.