Players declared ineligible

University officials Thursday morning declared four men’s basketball players ineligible to play pending the conclusion of an investigation into allegations of academic fraud.
The announcement effectively ended the college careers of seniors Kevin Clark, team co-captain Miles Tarver and Jason Stanford, as the team went on to lose to Gonzaga University 75-63 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore Antoine Broxsie was also declared ineligible to play.
McKinley Boston, vice president of student development and athletics, said the University did not ask the NCAA to reinstate the players for the game, which was an option.
The University had opened an investigation into allegations printed in Wednesday’s St. Paul Pioneer Press that a former University counselor did course work for 20 current and former players.
Officials have yet to decide who will spearhead the pending investigation, but University President Mark Yudof said it will not be the NCAA or the Big Ten Conference.
Rather, he said a reputable law firm or experienced private investigator would be the more likely candidate.
“In light of the limited amount of time to investigate this story, we believe there is prima facie evidence to support some of the serious allegations,” Boston said.
Yudof said University officials have had only 48 hours to respond to the allegations, and they need more time to evaluate the situation.
Despite the allegations and turmoil of the last two days, Yudof said in a separate interview that head coach Clem Haskins’ job is not in jeopardy.
“I’m not going to read a newspaper and then dismiss one of the most distinguished coaches in the nation,” Yudof said.
Mark Rotenberg, the University’s general counsel, said he attempted to talk to Jan Gangelhoff, the woman who claimed to write the players’ papers, but was unsuccessful. He said he also tried to get documents from the Pioneer Press on Wednesday to investigate the allegations.
In a broadcast report Thursday night, Gangelhoff said Haskins never directly paid her, a postition contrary to the original published report. She did say that a staff member from the basketball program whom she trusted gave her the money, claiming it was “from Haskins.”
She also asserted that in tutoring sessions with players, it simply became quicker and easier for her to do the work herself. She said she did not know if Haskins knew of the practice.
Boston reiterated that Haskins had no knowledge of the alleged cheating incidents prior to the Pioneer Press report. He added that he had told Haskins that if the allegations are true, the reputation of the University and the men’s basketball program are at risk.
“Coach Haskins agreed that the decisions we made were in the best interest of the University,” Boston said.
The academic enrollment status of the four players is still in question. “They will be punished according to the rules of their college,” Rotenberg said.
All of the information the University has gathered thus far has been given to the NCAA. Yudof said that because the allegations were self-reported, he doesn’t think the University men’s basketball program will suffer any major ramifications, such as losing scholarships.
Yudof criticized the magnitude of the Pioneer Press’ story, which he first heard about from a reporter while on a short Florida vacation.
“I remember the Kennedy assassination,” Yudof said. “I don’t think the headlines were that big.”
He added that the timing of the article could not have been worse, coming on the eve of the NCAA tournament.
The allegations are not the first to plague the Gopher men’s basketball program. In fact, Haskins was hired as head coach after Jim Dutcher resigned in 1986. Dutcher stepped down after three of his players were accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in a Madison, Wisc., hotel room.
Another player under Dutcher slipped into academic ineligibility.
At his press conference — held in the same room Boston announced the four suspensions Thursday — Dutcher said he felt responsible for the problems happening in his program.
“If you head up a program, you’re ultimately responsible,” Dutcher said.
Courtney James, who played for Haskins’ 1996-97 Big Ten Championship and Final Four team, was suspended after being convicted of fifth-degree assault charges in August 1997. He left to play professional basketball in Greece shortly thereafter.