Basketball team placed on probation

Kristin Gustafson

The Gophers men’s basketball team will be banned from postseason play and placed on probation, University President Mark Yudof announced Tuesday, calling the sanctions a “middle-range” move.
The penalties follow allegations of academic fraud that surfaced in March, prompting a $1.5 million buyout of then-men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins’ contract and a seven-month, $1.4 million investigation.
Additional University and NCAA sanctions might follow in coming months, Yudof said, flanked by men’s basketball coach Dan Monson and Men’s Athletics Director Mark Dienhart. A final report on academic fraud allegations is expected to be completed within days and will be released to the public in mid-November.
“As a public university, the University of Minnesota has an obligation both to the public and to the NCAA to hold ourselves responsible for the misconduct,” Yudof said.
Yudof imposed a one-year ban on national invitational and NCAA tournaments.
He also placed the program on probation, requiring a heightened level of NCAA reporting — periodic self-studies and compliance checks — for an unspecified period of time.
But “there aren’t absolutely specific guidelines,” Yudof said.
Describing the action as neither a stiff penalty nor a slap on the wrist, Yudof said, “What we did was the middle-range penalties of what we thought the NCAA might be predicted to impose.” Yudof would not speculate on the NCAA’s response to the University’s actions.
“I would be very chagrined to know that I had imposed a harsher penalty than the NCAA,” Yudof told a Morrill Hall room packed with reporters. “That’s part of the game here.”
For Gophers men’s basketball coach Monson, hired after Haskins’ departure, the sanctions are tough enough.
“The sooner we get it behind us, the better,” he said. “None of these kids are involved in the wrongdoing, and they’re the ones who are paying the price.”
Since the ban will last only one year, it will affect current players more than future recruits, Monson added.
Yudof said he understood that men’s basketball players who did not engage in misconduct might feel these sanctions are unfair.
“However, for this program to continue rebuilding and to maintain the integrity of the institution, and to move forward in the basketball program and to support coach Monson, we must demonstrate good faith and take meaningful action to repair the action that has been done by others,” Yudof said.
Monson said he knew “this day would come” and that men’s basketball players and staff are anxious to move forward.
The University’s self-imposed sanctions came at this time “to give coach Monson, coach Monson’s players and prospective recruits a clearer understanding of the future of the program prior to commencement of the 1999-2000 season,” Yudof said.
“The team, the coach, the recruits, the program were sort of in limbo,” he said. “I felt this was almost inevitable that sanctions at this level would be imposed anyhow … I just want to move forward.”
Dienhart said the men’s basketball team could play in the Big Ten tournament because it is part of the regular season. But under the sanctions, the team could not play in this season’s national division tournament nor NCAA tournament.
For now, however, the University will continue to collect money from NCAA tournaments.
As Dienhart stared at the table in front of him, Yudof said he preferred not to speculate on future sanctions or personnel changes.
“The things that are on the table are internal disciplinary matters as far as our personnel and reporting lines,” Yudof said.
Dienhart oversaw the men’s basketball program. And McKinley Boston, vice president of student development and athletics, was Dienhart’s supervisor during the time most of the fraud allegedly occurred.
“I intend to be here for awhile,” Boston said after the meeting. “Maybe somebody has some other notions, but those are not mine.”

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected]