Memo documents Haskins asking counselor to cheat

by V. Paul

A 1986 memo written by Rick Marsden, a former athletics academic counselor with a pending lawsuit against the University, documents that Clem Haskins asked him to write a paper for one of his players.
According to the memo sent to Elayne Donahue, former head of the academic counseling unit, Haskins told Marsden: “If someone doing a paper for an athlete would allow him the opportunity to be eligible to compete … we need to do the paper for him.”
Investigators Donald Lewis and Michael Glazier met Wednesday with Donahue to discuss the memo during a deposition at the office of her attorney, Jim Lord.
“It appears (Haskins) was attempting to direct someone to write papers for student-athletes,” Lord said. “The investigators have more and more evidence of academic fraud found at the University.”
Although the memo was just recently released by investigators and confirmed by Donahue, it did not surprise University officials.
“(It means) nothing because it’s not new,” said McKinley Boston, vice president of student development and athletics. “This has been on the table from the very beginning.”
The 1986 memo supported allegations Marsden made in his 1998 lawsuit against the University. Marsden claimed the athletics department discriminated against him based on his sexual orientation and his depression. He sought a court-ordered reassignment within the University and currently works as a University College counselor.
In response to Marsden’s charges, University attorneys issued a letter to the counselor’s attorney, deeming his claims of a “homophobic work environment” baseless.
“The University has no basis to believe that Mr. Marsden’s request for reassignment is based on anything other than a personality conflict with athletics management,” the Dec. 4, 1998 letter stated.
In an affidavit dated Jan. 21, nearly two months before the men’s basketball academic fraud scandal surfaced, Marsden testified that he was instructed to write an academic paper for a student by an unnamed basketball coach. He refused and reported the incident to University officials, according to the affidavit.
Donahue did not clearly remember what she did with the memo after receiving it, although she thinks she passed it on to Jim Infante, the former vice president of student development and athletics who preceded Boston.
“It strengthens the evidence that Haskins was aware it was going on,” he said.
Boston said he was not aware of the memo, nor was he briefed by Infante about alleged academic violations in the men’s basketball program.
In the memo, Marsden also recounted a conversation between Haskins and Susan Latendresse, who worked in the men’s basketball office. Haskins wanted her to process a scholarship application for a player who had publicly turned professional and was therefore no longer eligible. Latendresse refused.
Marsden quotes Haskins as saying, “Everyone else in the country does it. Why shouldn’t we help this young man?”

V. Paul Virtucio welcomes comments at [email protected]