Donahue, Gangelhoff pronounce report fair

V. Paul

When she was first hired, Jan Gangelhoff helped edit papers and tutor student-athletes. But when her pupils started winning games, she found herself writing entire papers without any input from the “authors” and lying about it to protect her job.
Reacting to the release of the University’s academic misconduct investigation report, the former tutor acknowledged on Friday her role as a key figure in the men’s basketball cheating scandal. But she said she was simply following instructions from former tutor Alonzo Newby, who was probably getting his orders from coach Clem Haskins.
“Yes, I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I had support,” Gangelhoff said at a Friday news conference.
Gangelhoff described the support she received as acceptance by Haskins into the men’s basketball “family.” Yudof called the same family “an isolated fiefdom.”
Despite Haskins’ denials, investigators concluded that he not only knew about but encouraged Gangelhoff’s writing of student assignments. They also found that former academic counselor Alonzo Newby played a central role in the academic misconduct.
And Yudof said he is not ruling out possible action against culpable individuals such as Newby, Gangelhoff and her former supervisor Elayne Donahue, although it would most likely be left up to litigation outside the University.
At their press conference, both Gangelhoff and Donahue appeared relieved Friday that the eight-month investigation ended with a report they said was accurate. Their attorney, Jim Lord, said Yudof’s actions would “stop this conspiracy of academic cheating at the University.”
Gangelhoff’s confession last March of writing about 400 assignments for student-athletes launched the University’s academic misconduct investigation.
At his press conference Friday, Yudof said the win-at-any-cost atmosphere in the basketball program undermined the University’s promise to educate student-athletes. But Gangelhoff said she wasn’t sure that there was a sincere promise in the first place.
“First of all, I’m not sure (the men’s basketball players) were ever promised an education,” Gangelhoff said. “With or without my help, they would not have been successful at the University, anyway.”
The student-athletes found to have obtained their grades and academic credits illegally now stand the chance of having the appropriate grades reversed. This is something the University is looking into, Yudof said.
“I didn’t think that when I came forward, that would be part of the end result,” Gangelhoff said. “But you know, everybody involved in this has to take responsibility for their role, and I decided to do that.”
The investigators’ final report criticized Donahue’s failure to adequately supervise Gangelhoff even though one-third of the academic fraud occurred during Donahue’s tenure, mostly at Gangelhoff’s computer terminal during office hours.
However, Gangelhoff denied that the assignments were done in the office and said she typically completed the work on her home computer between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Donahue’s failure to stop Gangelhoff was part of a larger institutional failure to supervise academic counselors and ensure independence between the counseling unit and the athletics programs, according to the report.
“In addition to the individual violations involving cheating and money paid to student-athletes, the NCAA will find that we violated its standard for institutional control,” Yudof said. “Because of this loss of control, the fraud continued unchecked for years.”
Absolute control, absolute conflict
“From the time he arrived at the University, Clem Haskins sought absolute control over the men’s basketball program,” the investigators wrote in their report. “He insisted on control over and absolute loyalty from the academic adviser assigned to men’s basketball.”
This was also the way Gangelhoff described the environment in which she helped men’s basketball players cheat.
Her relationships with student-athletes started out in the appropriate tutor-student vein, but as the basketball team’s record got better and its chances of winning a Big Ten or NCAA title increased, the pressure to keep players eligible grew. That pressure came from Haskins, she said.
In the beginning, she wasn’t afraid of anyone finding out about the cheating because of Haskins’ totalitarian leadership. But the fear of repercussions came later on, she said.
“I felt protected to a degree by (Haskins) and others,” she said. “I had his support, I had Alonzo’s support.”
The environment Haskins created in the basketball program was such that Gangelhoff believed her role was necessary. She said the need to help students cheat was created because Haskins recruited athletes instead of student-athletes into the program.
“With the structural changes (Yudof) has made, and certainly the personnel changes, it can only get better,” Gangelhoff said.
Missteps down the wrong path
“My conscience is clear,” Donahue said. “I know I did more than anyone at the University to straighten out men’s basketball, and for that I took nothing but abuse.”
The final report said Donahue did not take actions to stop Gangelhoff’s activities despite reports from senior counselors.
“I came forward many times in between (1992 and 1998),” Donahue said. “I just didn’t have the documentation for that.”
While investigators claimed Gangelhoff carried on her activities in plain view of her co-workers, Donahue said Gangelhoff’s office was actually set back and separated by a wall, shielding the inappropriate activities from prying eyes.
Both former University employees said it was not unusual for student-athletes to be in Gangelhoff’s office because her duties included administering student scholarships.
“Her job was such that she worked with student-athletes,” Donahue said. “There was a string of student-athletes who came to her office.”
In February 1998, Donahue wrote a letter to McKinley Boston, vice president of student development and athletics, expressing her frustration about the improper relationship between men’s athletics and academic counseling.
“This leaves me in the vulnerable position of being responsible for something (i.e. whatever is going on in the men’s basketball program) that I have no control over,” Donahue wrote. “That is unfair, and I believe it is unethical.”
But she did not have the documentation to prove any of her suspicions, nor did she seek them out.
“Someone chose not to address these (allegations),” Gangelhoff said. “I don’t think they looked at all.”
No love lost
“(The charges of academic misconduct) were brought against the program because I disassociated from the basketball program a former employee of academic counseling who provided improper help to members of the basketball team,” said men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart in announcing his resignation.
He was referring to the October 1998 dismissal of Gangelhoff as a tutor for student-athletes. Her allegations of misconduct were made public by the St. Paul Pioneer Press in March.
In a previous statement, Dienhart wrote that he regretted people like Gangelhoff were hired into the academic counseling department and were placed in contact with student-athletes.
However, at his press conference, Dienhart said he would not have known Gangelhoff if she walked up to him.
“Mr. Dienhart never spoke to me hardly at all,” Gangelhoff said. The one time they did speak directly was an unpleasant experience, she said.
“The University does not necessarily like my clients, nor me for that matter,” Lord told the Daily in a previous interview early last week.
Yudof called both Donahue and Gangelhoff “enigmas” during his press conference Friday for their double roles wanting to help the student-athletes but not putting a stop to the cheating.
According to the final report, investigators could not believe Gangelhoff’s testimony regarding other individuals in the scandal because of her reputation for misleading University officials.
Yudof said she lied to investigators repeatedly but he admired her for her courage to come forward — though he said he wished she had come forward to him first.
“(Gangelhoff) led the cheating by a wide margin and basically her claim is ‘someone should have stopped me,'” Yudof said.

V. Paul Virtucio welcomes comments at [email protected]