Haskins to accept $1 million buyout

by Sarah McKenzie

Clem Haskins’ future was uncertain late Thursday night, as reports of his departutre from the University men’s basketball program circulated through Twin Cities media.
Athletics director Mark Deinhart told WCCO Radio, “I talked to Clem today and he believes that the president would feel more confortable if the program continued under other leadership,”
Haskins will leave his postition as head coach with a buyout deal of more than $1 million, the Pioneer Press reported in an online edition.
The exact details of the deal were not yet finalzed, but the offical announcement is expected to come this morning following a closed-door meeting of the Board of Regents. University President Mark Yudof will brief the regents on the situation during the 11 a.m. meeting.
Yudof, Haskins, his attorney Ron Zamansky and University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg met throughout the week to discuss a possible buyout of Haskins’ contract; Yudof reportedly has asked for Haskins’ resignation.
If the coach is fired for just cause, his contract calls for approximately $423,000 in deferred compensation. Without cause, the settlement figure could reach more than $1 million.
Also, University officials might impose sanctions on the Gophers men’s basketball program as early as next fall, Yudof announced at a national alumni meeting Wednesday.
Possible penalties Yudof discussed include banning the basketball team from participating in NCAA postseason tournaments next year.
Yudof said the proposed punishment would indicate the University is serious about acting on the charges of academic fraud in the program. The University investigative team plans to report findings to the NCAA in September.
The NCAA is expected to deliberate on the investigator’s findings next spring. At that time, the infractions committee could reprimand the University by placing the basketball team on probation, eliminating scholarships or prohibiting postseason play.
Chris Schoemann, director of the University’s Athletic Compliance Office, said Thursday that he has not yet had conversations with the president about implementation of the proposed sanctions.
Schoemann’s office is the University authority on NCAA rules and regulations.
Men’s athletic director Mark Dienhart was unavailable for comment Thursday, but Marc Ryan, a spokesman for men’s athletics, said discussions about the self-imposed sanctions are too premature at this point.
“We have to wait until the investigation runs its course,” Ryan said. “It’s much too early to discuss possible sanctions.”
Ryan said University-imposed penalties would not be an unusual scenario, however. In the past, officials have limited recruiting time and the number of available scholarships to discipline University athletic programs in violation of school and NCAA policies.
Other universities mired by academic scandals in athletic programs have followed similar courses of action, self-imposing sanctions to soften the punishment delivered by the NCAA.
For instance, the NCAA largely accepted penalties issued by Texas Tech officials in 1998 after the school was accused of providing perks to student-athletes including free bail bonds and other legal services.
A Tech football player was also accused of academic fraud after he allegedly illegally obtained university credit from a correspondence course. Individuals close to the university’s athletic programs reportedly provided the benefits.
Basketball players implicated in the scandal were accused of playing games while academically ineligible.
After the incidents surfaced, Tech officials ordered an internal audit, demanded the forfeiture of 11 basketball game wins, cut athletic scholarships and put several teams on probation for three years.
The NCAA did not significantly add to the penalties imposed by the university. The infractions committee tacked one more year on to the probation period and cut additional scholarships.
Other universities, like Montana State and Louisville, censured their men’s basketball programs after reports of academic fraud and recruiting violations surfaced.
The schools enacted new compliance procedures, limited recruiting and cut scholarships. The NCAA added a few more penalties, primarily relying on the punishment delivered to the programs by the universities.

— Wire reports contributed to this report.