Judge Rejects Gophers' Tutor Plea

Monday, September 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. PAUL (AP) — A federal judge on Monday tossed out a plea agreement expected to make former basketball tutor Jan Gangelhoff a witness against other figures in Minnesota's academic cheating scandal.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson complained that the terms of the agreement infringed upon both the court's rights and Gangelhoff's.

``I'm absolutely convinced that this plea is overly broad,'' Magnuson said.

Based on widespread leaks of grand jury proceedings, Gangelhoff had been expected to plead guilty in return for a lighter sentence and testimony against others, including former coach Clem Haskins and former academic adviser Alonzo Newby.

Magnuson admonished attorneys for those leaks. Grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret, he said, and ``I expect counsel, whether they are representing the government, the defendant or the University of Minnesota, to do the same.''

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark McConnell then moved to dismiss the case, and Magnuson granted the request.

Neither McConnell nor attorneys for Gangelhoff would comment afterward. Gangelhoff was solemn as she left the courtroom.

Gangelhoff came forward in March 1999 to say she had completed more than 400 pieces of coursework for players. The charge she had been expected to plead guilty to was helping former player Bobby Jackson illegally obtain a federal Pell grant.

Pell grants are given to students based on financial need, and Gangelhoff had been expected to admit she wrote Jackson's papers for correspondence courses so he could be admitted to the university in late summer 1995.

Gangelhoff's revelation resulted in Haskins' ouster, a reorganization of university athletics administration, and self-imposed sanctions. The NCAA is also investigating, and the university is suing Haskins to try to recover part of the $1.5 million it paid him to buy out his contract early.

Jackson played for the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves before signing with the Sacramento Kings for the upcoming season. He was in Minneapolis last week to testify before the grand jury in exchange for an agreement that he not be prosecuted.