Gophers might have to forfeit last five seasons

Josh Linehan

It is possible Quincy Lewis never scored a basket. The Gophers might have never gone to the Final Four. Those who were there would say otherwise, but in the wake of Friday’s report, five years of Gophers history might be erased.
The University could now be forced to forfeit every men’s basketball game played in the last five years.
“During each season between 1994-95 and 1998-99, the University’s men’s basketball team competed with at least one student-athlete who received improper academic assistance, and who thus was ineligible,” the investigative report’s executive summary stated.
Forfeiting the 1997 playoff run would cost about $2.2 million, money the school would have to pay to the NCAA, according to statistics available on the organization’s Web site.
Recent precedents indicate a massive NCAA penalty might be possible.
After Purdue University basketball player Luther Clay was declared ineligible in 1995 because of an unauthorized $4,000 bank loan, the NCAA forced Purdue to forfeit all 24 games in which Clay appeared.
Purdue has appealed, and the NCAA will hear their case Nov. 29. But if the original sanctions stand, the penalty will constitute an economic hardship for the Boilermakers, Purdue spokesman Jim Vruggink said.
“If even the financial part of the sanctions are upheld, it will be a major deficit,” Vruggink said. “It will certainly mean quite a bit of cutting back.”
Purdue officials project the total cost of NCAA sanctions at about $900,000, Vruggink said.
“I certainly feel people here were shocked by the penalties, especially the monetary amount,” Vruggink said.
Vruggink said a lack of internal sanctions at Purdue probably led to harsher NCAA sanctions, but said officials felt they had no choice.
“Our people certainly felt there was substantial reason for appeal. If we had dismissed coach (Gene) Keady with the evidence available, we felt he would have grounds for a lawsuit,” Vruggink said.
Minnesota basketball coach Clem Haskins’ contract was bought out for $1.5 million in June. If the University had terminated Haskins for cause, the price would have been about $400,000.
University President Mark Yudof said his final action will not be taken until fall 2000 — after he has heard the NCAA sanctions — leaving open the possibility of an appeal.
On the basis of available evidence, Sport magazine recently ranked the Gophers basketball scandal as the fourth worst in the century.
But following Friday’s release of the academic-misconduct report and the resignations of McKinley Boston and Mark Dienhart, this scandal might go down in history as the worst, at least for the University.
Dienhart, who resigned Friday morning, said he felt the scandal was one of the worst things to ever happen to the school.
“It’s horrible stuff,” Dienhart said. “It has been devastating to the program, and it’s been devastating to University.”
Jan Gangelhoff said Friday she never imagined how much damage coming forward would cause. She also said she began writing student papers after the 1997 Final Four run, which her actions might ultimately erase.
But she also defended her actions, refuting Yudof’s earlier statement that athletes who were denied an education were the ultimate losers.
“I’m not sure if they were promised an education,” Gangelhoff said. “I know they were promised they could play basketball.”

Josh Linehan welcomes comments at jlinehan.daily.umn.edu. He can also be reached at (612) 627-4080 x3212.