Minnesota attempts to move forward following cheating scandal

Wednesday, October 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The University of Minnesota would like to think an ugly story that began 19 months ago has ended.

The NCAA added slightly on Tuesday to university-imposed sanctions on the basketball program, despite saying a case of academic fraud that included 21 major violations was among the worst it had been seen in 20 years.

But the story hasn't ended. Federal prosecutors continue their investigation. Minnesota is suing former basketball coach Clem Haskins over his $1.5 million buyout. The athletic department must remain on its best behavior while on four years' probation, and the basketball program must try to rebuild with resources that are limited by the sanctions.

But coach Dan Monson said, ``I think today this starts the 'putting it behind us.'''

The Gophers will be eligible to play in a postseason tournament following a self-imposed one-season ban. The NCAA Committee on Infractions added recruiting limits and ordered that all records of postseason tournaments during the misconduct from 1993-98 be erased.

The federal investigation is ongoing, but committee chairman Jack Friedenthal, a law professor at George Washington University, said he doubted that any further information turned up in the federal investigation would reopen the NCAA's case.

``By and large, this is it,'' Friedenthal said. ``You can't just keep revisiting it.''

Minnesota will continue to pursue Haskins' buyout. The university claims that he violated his contract when he admitted _ after several denials _ that he paid Jan Gangelhoff $3,000 to tutor a student after she was ordered to stay away from the team. University attorney Mark Rotenberg said the NCAA's findings confirm that Haskins ``was knowledgeable about and facilitated in'' fraud by Gangelhoff and academic adviser Alonzo Newby.

Gangelhoff admitted writing more than 400 term papers for at least 18 players during a five-year period.

``The violations were significant, widespread and intentional,'' the NCAA report said. ``More than that, their nature _ academic fraud _ undermined the bedrock foundation of a university and the operation of its intercollegiate athletics program.''

Haskins' attorneys denied the report in a news release.

``The decision of the NCAA Infractions Committee is not acceptable to coach Haskins,'' the release stated. It went on to say that the university's investigation was ``one-sided and used coach Haskins as the scapegoat.''

Haskins must appear before the infractions committee if he seeks a college sports job in the next seven years, and the committee will determine whether his duties should be limited. The news release said Haskins looks forward to being a college coach again.

Gangelhoff, now a store clerk in Wisconsin, called the report ``thorough and just.''

``I sighed with relief to see that the issue of lack of institutional control during coach Haskins' reign was dealt with thoughtfully and seriously,'' Gangelhoff said. ``As I stated months ago, this recognition by the NCAA would allow them to send a strong message to member institutions about their serious commitment to academics.''

The entire athletic department _ rather than just the basketball program _ will be on probation the next four years, administrators said. The ``death penalty'' _ shutting down the basketball program _ ``certainly would be seriously considered'' if Minnesota commits similar violations within five years, Friedenthal said.

Minnesota must take down banners and make no reference in school materials to the Gophers' participation in three NCAA tournaments, including the 1997 Final Four, and two National Invitation Tournaments, including its 1998 titles.

The university had already reduced scholarships from 13 to 10 for the next two seasons, plus four scholarships to be spread among the three seasons beginning in 2001-02. The NCAA cut the scholarships by one more, to five.