U asks NCAA

by Todd Milbourn

Claiming the University has done everything within reason to restructure athletics oversight, University officials pleaded to the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Wednesday that no further sanctions be levied on the men’s basketball program.
“The University respectfully requests that the Committee on Infractions give full credit to the penalties it has self-imposed, and that it not impose additional sanctions,” a letter responding to NCAA allegations stated.
Potential NCAA sanctions will be debated at a Committee on Infractions meeting Aug. 11-12 in Colorado, with a final decision expected by mid-October. University President Mark Yudof and a team of school officials will testify at the conference.
In addition to wholesale department personnel changes and last year’s post-season ban on the men’s basketball team, the University has committed to return 90 percent of the revenues accrued from games played with ineligible athletes, cut back scholarships and limit recruiting contacts.
However, University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said in a published report the University will not restrict basketball scholarships or return revenues unless mandated by the NCAA.
“If they don’t require our payment, then we won’t have to do so,” Rotenberg said.
Wednesday’s letter was a response to 23 major violations alleged in the NCAA’s official inquiry made in May. The 42-page summary letter reiterated many of the key findings self-reported by the University to the NCAA in November, including widespread academic fraud in the men’s basketball program, but showed no evidence of further infractions, University officials said.
Dienhart speaks out
Under NCAA procedure, individuals implicated in official reports have the opportunity to respond to allegations. Former men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart took that opportunity to criticize the report in a separate letter to NCAA officials.
Dienhart said the report contained an “unfair and inaccurate account” of athletics oversight during his tenure.
“The official inquiry contains some surprising basic errors of fact,” he said in the letter. “Those errors, I am afraid, have a direct impact on conclusions surrounding which units within the University, and which officials, exercised appropriate control over the men’s basketball program.”
Dienhart said the institutional structures blamed for mismanagement were in place prior to his appointment as men’s athletics director. He also said he was “continuously deceived” by former men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins and others in the program.
The complete, 500-page report will be released by the University today.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Todd Milbourn welcomes comments at mmilbour[email protected]. He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.