U, NCAA to discuss women’s basketball infractions

Adam Fink and

Cheryl Littlejohn’s four years as the Gophers women’s basketball coach begot a total of seven Big Ten-conference wins, as well as the scrutiny of the University and the NCAA.

University officials will attend a hearing with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in April due to at least 12 NCAA rules infractions committed by Littlejohn. The violations were unearthed during University and NCAA investigations last spring.

The alleged infractions include giving prospective student-athletes money, providing or arranging discounted or free housing for prospective players and giving free and discounted clothing to team members.

“There is a concern whenever you have major violations,” said Mark Rotenberg, the University’s general counsel. Rotenberg also said the violations “do not reflect an institutional problem outside of women’s basketball.”

Because of the violations in the men’s basketball program under former coach Clem Haskins, the women’s team could be subject to the NCAA’s repeat violator rule.

The repeat violator rule is applicable to any university sport following a major infraction. According to the NCAA, “the second major case does not have to be in the same sport as the previous case to affect the second sport.”

The maximum punishment for a repeat violator is the “death
penalty,” or halting the program for up to two years.

Rotenberg said the repeat violator penalties should not be applied to the University because the infractions occurred before the University was placed on probation from the Haskins’ academic fraud incident on Oct. 24, 2000.

Women’s athletics director Chris Voelz said the infractions in the women’s basketball program were nothing like those committed under Haskins.

Voelz also said the University and NCAA investigations
produced similar results that implicated Littlejohn but not the department as a whole in the violations.

If the Gophers continue their early season success on the court and receive a bid to a postseason tournament, the team will not be affected by any sanctions enforced by the NCAA, said Voelz.

Under new coach Brenda Oldfield, the Gophers have posted a 14-3 record and are 4-2 in the Big Ten.

“This is out of our hands and control,” Oldfield said. “I haven’t read any documents concerning the infractions, and I don’t plan to. I am looking forward to moving on past this.”

Minnesota’s quick start has garnered a top 25 ranking in The Associated Press poll for the first time in 20 years.

 

– Wire services contributed to this report.

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