NCAA hears final plea

by Todd Milbourn

AVON, Colo. — The ball is now in the NCAA’s hands.
In what University President Mark Yudof characterized as a “quite sobering” proceeding, the University made its final plea to avoid further sanctions on its men’s basketball program before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Avon, Colo., on Friday.
The committee will now evaluate the University’s argument and is expected to make its final decision regarding the future of the program in six to eight weeks.
After a round of early-morning opening statements, the sides began trudging through the 23 allegations of academic misconduct one by one.
Officials spent the most time looking into the first allegation, which involved the writing of 400 papers for at least 18 players over six years by former tutor Jan Gangelhoff. They also debated the final allegation, a lack of institutional control, at length.
By day’s end, University officials emerged from the marathon 10-hour session fatigued but confident they got their point across.
“There were some choppy waves, but no tidal waves,” Yudof said at a post-hearing press conference.
Though both sides generally agreed on the alleged violations and the evidence of their occurrence at the outset of the hearing, they had yet to determine the “degree of culpability.” In other words, have the self-sanctions gone far enough?
“There were serious self-imposed sanctions,” Yudof said. “But there were serious wrongs that predicated those sanctions.”
Yudof said he is “guardedly optimistic” the committee will see it his way and determine that the self-sanctions — last year’s ban on post-season play, recruiting restrictions, scholarship reductions and an offer to repay some tournament revenues — are adequate penalties.
The closed-door hearing was scheduled for two days but concluded early when the invited outside parties — Gangelhoff, former men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins and former academic counselor Alonzo Newby — chose not to show.
Given the federal investigation into wire and mail fraud launched in April and the possibility that comments made at the hearing would be used against them in the future, the no-shows weren’t a surprise.
On Thursday, Yudof said the University will wait out the investigation before deciding whether to go after some of the $1.5 million paid to buy out Haskins’ contract in June.
The process
The Committee on Infractions is the enforcement arm of the NCAA and is comprised of eight voting members. Most have distinguished law backgrounds, a strong interest in college sports and volunteer their time in addition to full-time jobs.
Since the hearing ended a day early, the committee began debating the case among themselves Saturday.
“(Committee members) will get together — usually by phone — and look at the facts and the evidence,” said NCAA spokeswoman Jane Jankowski. Once a consensus is reached, a final report will be made public, including any sanctions, she said.
Penalties traditionally levied by the NCAA in serious infractions cases, beyond what the University has already imposed, include:
ù A probationary period where the NCAA conducts in-person reviews of the offending institution and requires them to submit written reports of their clean-up efforts.
ù Restricting television appearances for the sanctioned program over a specified time, often resulting in a significant loss of revenue.
ù Withholding NCAA financial aid awards from penalized schools.
ù The voiding of games played with ineligible players from the record books. In the past 40 years, six schools have had their names replaced with “vacated” in official Final Four records for such violations.
Any further sanctions imposed by the NCAA would be subject to appeal.
So, for now, the University will play the waiting game, anticipating the sense of closure that is expected to come with the NCAA’s ruling.
“We just can’t wait for a verdict,” said men’s basketball coach Dan Monson. “Then we can move on as a basketball program.”

Todd Milbourn welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.