Former U counselor won’t trade testimony for legal protection

V. Paul

A key figure claiming to have evidence of a wider conspiracy refused a University offer of legal protection in return for his testimony in the men’s athletics academic-misconduct investigation.
Alonzo Newby’s lawyer, Ron Rosenbaum, rejected the University’s offer Friday to pay his legal expenses and defend Newby in civil lawsuits that might stem from information he gives the University investigators.
“(Newby) clearly wants a payment in cash, which we are unwilling to give him,” said William Donohue, the University’s deputy general counsel.
The offer, presented by University investigator Don Lewis, followed a published statement by Newby admitting he knew of academic misconduct in the men’s basketball program and implying that it was sanctioned by his superiors.
Newby also accused the University of covering up the misconduct by not seriously attempting to obtain his testimony.
“The Gangelhoff allegations are but a piece of a much bigger pie,” he said in a statement released Friday.
However, Newby will only offer his information if the University pays him $132,500 and protects him against any criminal and civil lawsuits that might stem from his testimony.
Just hours after Newby’s statement surfaced Friday afternoon, University President Mark Yudof denied allegations of an internal cover-up.
“We’ll go anywhere, any time to meet with Newby,” Yudof said in statement Friday. “We’ve requested his testimony on many occasions, and we would be grateful for his cooperation, but under no circumstances will we pay Alonzo Newby for his testimony.”
Because Rosenbaum rejected the University’s offer, the academic misconduct report will still be released as scheduled.
“It won’t slow us down unless he agrees to give us his testimony,” Donohue said. “We’re moving ahead. We can’t wait forever. Mr. Newby has had months to come forward, and he has refused to do so.”
Newby was fired in June for refusing to testify before investigators because the University would not grant his demands.

Third-party opinions
“I think the University deserves to know the truth,” said McKinley Boston, vice president of athletics and student development. “For (Newby) to say he has information and not come forward is just unfair to all of us involved.”
Responding to Newby’s demands, Boston said he hopes Yudof would not resort to paying for testimony and said Yudof has been fair with Newby. Boston was not alone in that sentiment.
“Neither (payment nor immunity) is acceptable,” said former Gov. Arne Carlson. “It compromises the truth. You can’t seek the truth when people are paid to give it.”
After he finished riding down University Avenue in the Homecoming parade, Carlson said the media has now “put a spin on (Newby’s statement) that directs negative attention on the University.”
“I think it’s very sad,” Carlson said. “Now the media turns around and pretends this is all new. This is not; it’s very, very old. … The time has come to start to build the University and to get back to normal.”
The media forgets it also attempted to get information from Newby and failed just as the University has, he said.
“If there was a cover-up here, was also the media involved in the cover-up?” Carlson asked.
Newby only gave his statement to the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press, Donohue said. When reporters from those newspapers called University officials Friday for comment, neither Yudof nor the University attorneys had yet seen it, he said.
“We were allowed to read it and to look at it, but not to have a copy of it,” Donohue said. “We understood it as (the newspapers) were instructed by Newby and his attorney not to give us a copy.”

Testimony a long time coming
For three years, Newby was the only academic counselor attached to the men’s athletics department. He allegedly acted as a go-between for former men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins and former tutor Jan Gangelhoff.
Gangelhoff exposed Newby’s role after saying last March that she wrote 400 academic papers for student-athletes. Two weeks later, the University launched its investigation.
“The key to a tidy conclusion of this mess has been dependent on me pursuing one of two strategies: deny everything by lying or refuse to cooperate,” Newby said in his statement.
Newby said the University was not interested in his testimony and officials offered no serious attempt to obtain it.
Men’s Athletics Director Mark Dienhart responded with a statement of his own, calling Newby a liar and admonishing him to come forward without selling his information.
“He categorically denied any knowledge of improprieties or involvement in them at the expense of exposing student-athletes in the basketball program and the University to further harm,” Dienhart said. “I deeply regret that people like Alonzo Newby and Jan Gangelhoff were ever hired by the academic-counseling department and were placed in contact with our student-athletes.”

V. Paul Virtucio welcomes comments at [email protected]