Regents briefed in closed-door meeting

by Kristin Gustafson

In a closed-door meeting at Morrill Hall, the Board of Regents listened Thursday to a review of the University’s external academic-misconduct investigation.
For most, if not all of the regents, it was their first exposure to the information.
“We are in a listening mode and question-asking mode and getting the facts,” said Patricia Spence, regent chairwoman, after the board met for more than two hours.
“We’re just listening to the facts,” she added. “We’re hearing them for the first time.”
Spence and other regents would not otherwise discuss the nonpublic meeting, which was closed because personnel issues were discussed.
The external investigators presented part of their men’s basketball academic-misconduct report to University President Mark Yudof, the University’s General Counsel Mark Rotenberg and the Board of Regents.
“It is a very serious matter,” Spence said.
Regents will meet again today behind closed doors and hope to conclude their review sometime next week. It is expected that the University will make announcements and release the investigative report at that time.
Rotenberg said the board has not received the full report but refused to comment on the specifics of the information reviewed.
However, Rotenberg said personnel issues were included in the discussions.
Yudof has consistently said organizational changes might be necessary to restore public confidence as a result of the alleged academic misconduct.
The University’s academic integrity came under question last spring when a former tutor said she helped men’s basketball student-athletes cheat by writing more than 400 academic papers.
Following the allegations, the University initiated an investigation that has cost more than $1 million and spent an additional $1.5 million to buy out the contract of former men’s basketball coach, Clem Haskins.
The University has already imposed self-sanctions on the basketball team and fired former academic counselor Alonzo Newby after he refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Rotenberg said Newby wanted to be paid in exchange for cooperating, and the University refused to offer more than a standard severance package.
“That is unfortunate for the completeness of the investigation,” he said. “But we think that the investigators will be able to provide us with the full story even though Newby has decided not to cooperate.
“Mr. Newby was a central actor in this matter, and he did a lot of things that he feels sorry for, but he doesn’t want to talk to us, and this is not the FBI; we can not make him talk,” Rotenberg added.

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.