NCAA investigates possible LSU basketball infractions

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — College basketball standout Lester Earl was accused by the NCAA on Tuesday of accepting $6,600 in cash from an LSU assistant coach before transferring to Kansas last year.
The NCAA also said coaches who are no longer at LSU improperly helped some of Earl’s relatives find jobs. LSU must now answer the NCAA’s accusations by April 16; school chancellor William Jenkins said a committee is looking into them.
The investigation will have no bearing on Earl’s eligibility to play for the third-ranked Jayhawks this season and would affect his future only if it was proven that he took the money while a student at the Baton Rouge-based school. He has one year left at Kansas, and the university has appealed to get him a second year.
LSU could face severe NCAA sanctions, including the loss of scholarships and postseason eligibility, depending on the outcome of the investigation. Penalties are often reduced if the NCAA feels a school has cooperated.
Earl’s brother, Louis, a current LSU basketball player, was also cited in the NCAA’s letter of inquiry, accused of improperly receiving medical attention from LSU before enrolling. His status will not be affected by the investigation, said LSU sports information director Herb Vincent.
The violations are said to have occurred between 1993-1996 while Dale Brown was the LSU coach and, in some cases, while Lester Earl was still in high school in Baton Rouge. LSU said no current staff members are involved.
Brown’s phone number is unpublished and he could not be reached for comment. In August, he said the school did nothing wrong in its recruitment of Earl.
Johnny Jones, a former LSU assistant coach and now an assistant at Memphis, is accused of giving Earl the $6,600 between fall 1995 and December 1996. Some of the money was for truck and insurance payments.
But Jones’ lawyer, Jerry Crawford, said the NCAA’s letter was “dramatically inconsistent with the evidence we have developed in our own investigation.” Crawford said Earl was the one who told the NCAA about the money for the truck and insurance payments.
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward played in only 11 games for LSU as a freshman in 1996-97. He left LSU last January after being kicked off the team for violating rules and enrolled at Kansas.
The NCAA automatically investigates whenever a high-profile recruit transfers.
Kansas officials, including coach Roy Williams, declined comment.
David Berst, the NCAA’s assistant executive director for enforcement, said violations involving a player normally affect only the school where the violations occurred.
“The more difficult issue for us typically is how to prove whether there are such violations or not,” Berst said. “More often, when we are investigating particular institutions, we seek information from student-athletes and transfers without jeopardizing their eligibility.”
In other words, Earl could be granted what the NCAA calls “limited immunity” for providing information on LSU.
Earl is averaging 10.3 points and nine rebounds for the Jayhawks and has started several games since Raef LaFrentz broke a finger.