Minn. Waits for NCAA's Response

Tuesday, August 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — University of Minnesota officials must wait until this fall to learn whether the NCAA is satisfied with the punishments the school imposed on itself for an academic fraud scandal in the men's basketball program.

Top university officials led by president Mark Yudof appeared before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions for a one-day hearing Friday.

The panel planned to remain at the Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek until Sunday and, among other agenda items, deliberate Minnesota's case in an effort to arrive at tentative, preliminary conclusions. According to NCAA policy, the committee's final report, with any additional sanctions against the school, will be made public no sooner than six weeks.

Jack Friedenthal, chairman of the infractions committee, and other panel members declined comment.

Minnesota officials weren't predicting what the committee will decide. But, Friday night they said they did their best to convince the committee they've conducted a thorough housecleaning and taken steps to prevent a recurrence.

``We said the right things,'' Yudof said. ``They understood what we were saying. They appreciated what we were saying. They trusted that we were being honest. But that doesn't mean you win.''

The school's self-imposed penalties include a one-year ban on postseason play, limits to recruiting and scholarships, and an offer to repay some tournament revenue.

``I think they were impressed with (the self-sanctions) — frankly, sanctions of that magnitude don't happen quite often,'' Yudof said. ``But on the other hand, I think they were pretty much aware that these were pretty serious instances of misconduct.''

Because the university didn't dispute the NCAA's findings, the hearing wrapped up in one day instead of the scheduled two.

``Since we're largely in agreement on the misconduct, the operable part of the day was mostly spent on the issues of whether the self-imposed sanctions went far enough, and what would be appropriate, '' Yudof said. ``It shouldn't take two days to enter a guilty plea.''

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported in March 1999 that Jan Gangelhoff, an office manager in the athletics department's academic support unit, said she wrote more than 400 papers for at least 20 players over five years. The story prompted investigations by the university, the NCAA and federal prosecutors. Coach Clem Haskins and several other athletics officials lost their jobs.

Minnesota and the NCAA allege that both Haskins and former academic counselor Alonzo Newby knew about Gangelhoff's work.

Newby steered academically challenged students to her, and Haskins rewarded her with team trips, they say. Investigators also say that Newby helped get grades or classes changed to keep several players eligible, and that Haskins told players to lie after the story broke.

Haskins recently admitted — after repeated denials — that he paid Gangelhoff $3,000 cash to tutor a student after being ordered not to.

Haskins, Newby and Gangelhoff declined the committee's invitation to tell their sides of the story.

Among those waiting most anxiously for the panel's decision is Dan Monson, who replaced Haskins as men's basketball coach.

``I was pleased with the way president Yudof and the attorneys presented our case,'' Monson said. ``Again, we're guilty. I was just pleased with the way the committee listened to our side. I'm excited that it's over and now can't wait for a verdict so I can move on with this basketball program.''