Haskins, University agree to ‘binding arbitration’ solution

by Elizabeth Putnam

Three years after the University men’s basketball cheating scandal broke, Clem Haskins and the University might be able to avoid a lengthy and expensive trial.

Haskins, former men’s basketball coach, said he is willing to give back some of the $1.5 million he received when University bought out his contract in June 1999, according to a Hennepin County District Court order filed Tuesday.

Both parties have agreed to a “binding arbitration” process after lengthy mediation with former Judge Richard Solum, the order said.

Solum will decide the exact amount Haskins will be required to pay by the end of this month.

The University bought out Haskins’ contract during an investigation into academic-fraud allegations in June 1999.

The University entered into the buyout saying there was no
evidence of misconduct by Haskins.

However, Haskins admitted in July 1999 to paying Jan Gangelhoff, former athletics tutor, $3,000 to write papers for players.

The admission came after denying the charges to NCAA investigators.

Gangelhoff admitted in March 1999 to the St. Paul Pioneer Press that she wrote 400 papers for at least 18 players over 6 years.

The University placed sanctions on the men’s basketball team in April 2000, giving back 90 percent of the money the University received from the Big Ten for its participation in the 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1996-97 seasons.

In October 2000, the NCAA placed the men’s basketball team on probation for four years, took away a scholarship and wiped the 1997 Final Four season from the record books.

Haskins’ financial situation and a possible deferred payment plan will be considered in the arbitration process.

To get the buyout money back, the University sued Haskins in September 2000 on six counts of illegal activity, claiming he entered the buyout fraudulently. The counts include fraud and breach of employment agreement.

Ronald Meshbesher, Haskins’ attorney, said the decision was strictly economical.

“I am confident this arbitration will resolve and terminate any possible lawsuit,” Meshbesher said.

A confidentiality order prevents the University from commenting.

However, in a statement released Tuesday, University attorney Lorie Gildea said arbitration is the best route for resolution.

“We believe this process may provide a cost-effective and speedy resolution of this case,” Gildea said in the statement.

If they do not reach agreement in arbitration, the matter will go to trial.

Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]