Tutor tells tale of good intentions

Jake Kapsner

DANBURY, Wisc. — Jan Gangelhoff always knew she would move back home. She grew up in Danbury, Wisc., and after living in the Twin Cities for 32 years, is residing on the town’s main street above a bank.
The former University employee and tutor, who alleges she wrote papers for the Gophers men’s basketball team, lives a block away from a church named Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where she was married in 1971.
Since divorced, she returned to her hometown last year before a media storm erupted over statements she made in early March and consequent investigation proceedings began.
After the press conferences, numerous interviews and national coverage, Gangelhoff, 50, seems comfortable and happy sitting in her living room with her daughter Kim and granddaughter Alyssa. Her face is brighter than the pensiveness that guarded her expressions during her appearances the last two weeks.
Her apartment really doesn’t fit the enormity of the academic fraud story on ABC’s “20/20” on Friday night. Dream catchers hang on the walls, and pottery and woodcarvings are placed in various nooks — items that display something of Gangelhoff’s pride for her Native American ancestry.
That heritage, and 50 years of experience and education, helped her reach out to student athletes of color and form bonds that extended beyond a student-tutor relationship, she said.
She entered the basketball team’s “family” as a volunteer University tutor but said the tight-knit structure — fostered and enforced by coach Clem Haskins — isolated many players from their cultural connections beyond the world of basketball.
A Tutor
Gangelhoff began her University career in June 1985 at the School of Public Health, where she became an executive secretary. She transferred to the Department of Academic Counseling in March 1993 working in the same capacity.
The tutoring started late that year as she continued taking courses toward a bachelor’s degree and continued until the end of spring quarter 1998.
It began “like a student-tutor relationship was supposed to be,” where Gangelhoff volunteered long hours and reveled in a shared learning process. In the last two years, she couldn’t say no to an increasing student load, and writing papers for students simply became easier, she said.
The only time she was officially contracted to do the tutoring was during winter quarter 1998, and she received $4,800, she said.
Alonzo Newby, the chief academic advisor to the basketball team, tried to get her approved to tutor Antoine Broxsie for spring quarter.
“For some reason, which I to this day still do not know, they said absolutely not,” Gangelhoff said. “It was at that point Coach Haskins said, ‘Well, if we can’t get her approved, I’ll just pay her myself.'”
So it happened, she said, but she was supposed to be paid the same amount she received winter quarter. Gangelhoff only got $3,000 and no explanation, except for what Newby said: that Haskins would decide how much it had been worth to him, Gangelhoff said.
Haskins could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart sent Gangelhoff a letter disassociating her with the program on Oct. 26, 1998.
And she said she’d do it all again, because she “just wanted to help the kids.”
However, if one of her children were in the players’ position with the opportunity to cheat, she wouldn’t want them to do it.
When asked what she has to say to the parents of the players, she said: “Parents have to recognize the importance of education, and they have to be involved in their kids’ lives so that things like this don’t happen.”
Clem in Control
Gangelhoff insists that Haskins knew everything about his basketball team, including the notion that cheating occurred and cash payments were made to former players like Russ Archambault.
Haskins has repeatedly denied the allegations.
But more than knowledge, she said he had total control.
“Clem threw up a wall around that program,” Gangelhoff said. “There’s one gate, and unless you’re personally approved by Coach Haskins, you don’t get through that gate.
“You have to understand that every time a kid gets a little further away from the program, that’s a little less control Clem has over them.”
He wants to be his players’ mentor, father and disciplinarian, she said.
Such tight control insulated the athletes’ interaction with the world beyond basketball and limited the cultural contact that would provide academic support, she contends.
People of color are raised differently, she asserts, and “to be thrown into a situation like the University” requires that resources and services be made available.
Many resources were available outside the basketball program, but students were encouraged to stay within the offerings of Bierman Field Athletic Building, where Newby and others held nightly study sessions for the team, she said.
“Clem’s heart was in right place, but a lot of times he went about it the wrong way,” she said.