Harrod said he returned Monday from a weekend trip to Las Vegas to read in The Dallas Morning News that the university had offered to impose a five-year ban on him, his family and associates for allegedly overpaying athletes for minimal work. Harrod is owner of J&H Truck Service.
"I was surprised, and not the happiest surprised," said Harrod, who spoke late Monday with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles about the subject for the first time.
Broyles, reached at his home late Monday, declined to comment on Harrod.
"It's under review," Broyles said. "The Southeastern Conference and the university did a joint investigation and sent our findings to the NCAA."
Arkansas' offer to self-impose penalties include declining the remaining $250,000 of Harrod's pledge. He has already donated $50,000.
Arkansas also offered to eliminate football scholarships three first-year signees and two overall in 2001-02, and two initials and one overall in 2002-03.
Harrod said he regularly hires Arkansas athletes, but he has never intentionally overpaid them. He said Broyles told him that J&H had "poor bookkeeping practices."
Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt said Saturday that defensive end Randy Garner, of Atlanta, and at least one former player accepted $100 apiece for only a few hours work at J&H last December.
Nutt said Garner has repaid the debt and is suspended from team practices until the NCAA rules on his eligibility.
Harrod said he doesn't think the athletes were overpaid, but that he is not directly involved in payrolls at J&H.
Harrod said he believes the allegations are tied to a lawsuit against him filed by Ray Hall, a minority shareholder in J&H, and involving his former daughter-in-law, Karey Harrod, formerly a credit manager at J&H.
Harrod said he could not elaborate because of the pending lawsuit. But he said even if he is guilty, the punishment does not fit the crime.
"If I'm being sacrificed, that's fine. I'll get on down the road," he said. "But if this is a minor violation, five years doesn't sound minor. I quit donating to Texas A&M a long time ago because of the way they cheated."
Harrod said he thought his heavy punishment might look suspicious to NCAA investigators, who have been forwarded reviews of the case by Arkansas and the SEC.
"The NCAA may take a long look at this," he said. "Something ain't kosher."