Travel funding of staff, police enters inquiry

Sarah McKenzie

The investigation of the men’s basketball program recently honed in on the travel habits of University officials close to the program.
Clem Haskins allegedly paid for Jan Gangelhoff, former team tutor and office manager, to go on a nine-day trip to Hawaii in 1995. The coach denied paying for the vacation in a statement issued Friday, despite evidence that he wrote a $1,050 personal check for the trip.
Ronald Zamansky, Haskins’ attorney, said Monday that the coach maintains his innocence and is barred from commenting further on the basketball investigation by order of University President Mark Yudof.
Officials from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the University men’s athletics department have said the Gangelhoff payment does not appear to be in violation of NCAA policy because the former office manager was neither a member of the coaching staff nor an athlete.
Gangelhoff’s attorney Jim Lord said the former office manager referred to her trip in statements she made under oath to University investigators weeks ago.
Newspaper reports alleging Haskins wrote a personal check to pay for Gangelhoff’s trip strengthen her claims that Haskins has made payments to the former office manager for completing more than 400 academic papers and take-home tests for 20 Gophers basketball players, Lord said.
“This once more raises her credibility up a notch,” he said.
Lord said Gangelhoff and his other client, Elayne Donahue, former head of the men’s athletics academic counseling unit, have plans to meet with investigators once again in the next few weeks.
Police travel habits questioned
The University Police Department has also come under scrutiny — for traveling with the men’s basketball team during the Gophers 1997 Final Four appearance in Indianapolis.
Former police chief Joy Rikala and former detective Larry Anderson traveled with the team at the men’s athletics department’s expense, according to University travel records.
Anderson was investigating some men’s basketball players for sexual assault cases about the same time he went on the trips. Documents indicate Anderson traveled to basketball games at least seven times between February 1997 and February 1998. He could not be reached for comment.
He was off-duty during the excursions, University officials said.
Rikala reportedly accompanied the team to Michigan in order to speak with campus officials accustomed to handling security issues during basketball tournaments.
Rikala did not return phone calls for comment.
Lt. Steve Johnson, acting police chief, said he had little firsthand information about the trips Rikala and Anderson took with the team, noting such arrangements were highly unusual.
Mark Cox, interim associate vice president for the Department of Health, Safety and Transportation, said University police officers sometimes have a dual role on campus that differs from that of municipal officers.
Cox said that in addition to their regular duties, officers sometimes serve as corporate security personnel for University functions.
Despite this rationale, some have wondered whether the trips constitute a conflict of interest, especially in light of allegations that University officials intervened in several sexual assault investigations involving men’s basketball and football players.
U police: Heroes or facilitators?
Rebecca Fabunmi, a men’s athletics tutor, said she reported harassment by a football player to Anderson, who spoke with athletics officials about the incident. A football player allegedly masturbated in front of Fabunmi during a tutoring session. She claims the harassment continued after she filed the report.
Anderson did not forward his police work to Hennepin County prosecutors at the conclusion of those investigations, according to University police reports.
President Yudof broadened the scope of the men’s basketball program investigation to include the entire men’s athletics department after newspaper reports alleged that University officials have intervened in at least six sexual assault investigations involving basketball and football players.
Members of the police department and Program Against Sexual Violence have cooperated with the investigation, but remain skeptical of the allegations. Some officials have voiced their support for past and present police officers accused of the misconduct.
Jamie Tiedemann, director of the Program Against Sexual Violence, said she will wait for the investigators’ findings before making a judgment about the police department, but said she believes Anderson supported victim’s rights.
“I have difficulty with where this investigation has gone,” she said. “(Anderson) had such sensitivity for victim survivors.”
The program established an award in Anderson’s name after the detective completed 50 hours of victim-advocacy training with the program in 1997, Tiedemann said.
Donald Lewis, a Minneapolis attorney and Julie Sweitzer, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, are heading up the investigation into the sexual assault and harassment claims. Their findings are due on Yudof’s desk by July 1.
— Staff Reporter V. Paul Virtucio contributed to this report.