Time has arrived for Haskins’ resignation

In this same box several years ago, the Daily editorial board pontificated on the job status of Gophers men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins. We determined it was time for him to step aside; a couple of subpar seasons and a string of unimpressive recruiting classes convinced us his effectiveness was waning.
Then Minnesota advanced to the Final Four in 1997. Needless to say, we were wrong.
Back then, Haskins’ stranglehold on his job was all about posting more wins than losses. Today, however, the situation has morphed into one that has more to do with the integrity of the coach and his dubious control over the program. Haskins and the program he took over 14 years ago are now riddled with allegations of academic fraud and other misdeeds that seem too pervasive to overlook.
Haskins must go. A resignation is perfectly acceptable, but if one is not forthcoming, the University must be prepared to cut him loose. Regardless of Haskins’ level of involvement in the alleged wrongdoings — he could have been insulated from the activities by his assistants or other University staff members — the responsibility for a clean program ultimately falls on his shoulders. In this case, at this time, with the information that’s been gathered to date, Haskins failed to live up to that responsibility.
Oversight of the academic support services for the men’s basketball team was essentially granted to the coach in 1994, at which point things seem to have spun out of control. By some accounts, Haskins would only work with people who he could intimidate and with whom he could co-opt. Former University tutor Jan Gangelhoff was one of those people. She alleges she wrote hundreds of papers for dozens of men’s basketball players and at one point was paid by Haskins to do so. These assertions were corroborated by her fellow tutor and sister Jeanne Payer. Elayne Donahue, who headed up the University’s academic counseling unit, provided investigators with a report detailing a history of shady operations in the men’s basketball program, which was backed up by a slew of inter-office memos and other documents.
The trail leads to a coach who, despite his claims of a deep-seated interest in helping young men develop their talents and their intellects, seems to have short-changed his players. In doing so, Haskins also cheated fans, University students and faculty. He apparently allowed pulled strings and wink-nudge politics to take the place of honest efforts to teach players something beyond how to play a trap or beat an opponent off the dribble. Keeping players eligible became an end without a legitimate means.
University officials have said no action will be taken until the internal investigation is completed, a process that could drag on until September or later. In the meantime, the reputation of this program and the University will continue to take a beating. Haskins’ departure would be a step toward building a new paradigm of how athletics and academics merge at the college level.
A team that wins more often than it loses has a way of convincing the public to set aside its value system. We do this willingly, of course; everybody loves a winner. But we have seen enough to realize that wins often come at too high a price, and the University can no longer afford to pay up.