NCAA finds Washington culpable in Neuheisel flap

Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2004

SEATTLE The NCAA cited the University of Washington for lack of institutional control Tuesday in the gambling flap that led to the firing of former football coach Rick Neuheisel.

The NCAA found Neuheisel and other individuals broke rules against gambling but did so unwittingly. The organization instead cited the university for failing to adequately educate its coaches and staff.

''The charges squarely put the responsibility for complying with NCAA rules on the university itself,'' said Bob Sulkin, Neuheisel's lawyer.

The finding is a first step toward what could be major sanctions for Washington. In cases where ''lack of institutional control'' is cited, the NCAA infractions committee typically imposes severe penalties.

The university issued a statement in which interim athletic director Dick Thompson pledged to provide any information requested by NCAA investigators. He said Washington will respond to the NCAA findings by an April 26 deadline.

''We do not believe the specific allegations cited in the notice constitute a lack of institutional control and we will have an opportunity to explain our view to the NCAA,'' Thompson said.

The case is scheduled to go before the NCAA infractions committee in June. An NCAA spokesman declined to comment.

Neuheisel was fired last summer after he admitted taking part in off-campus auction pools with neighbors in the last two NCAA basketball tournaments. He bet $6,400 over the two years, winning $17,619. The NCAA finding is not an outright victory for Neuheisel. A Pac-10 investigation is continuing, and he still faces a possible ''show cause'' sanction that would ban him from coaching in college for an undetermined period.

Neuheisel has maintained that a memo written by former Washington compliance director Dana Richardson, who resigned earlier this month, gave him permission to take part in the pools.

''The charges make it very clear that the university failed to educate those coaches and staff and indeed sent them incorrect information,'' Sulkin said. ''The university should accept responsibility for its actions rather than blaming its coaches and other members of the athletic department.''

Former athletic director Barbara Hedges, who announced her retirement last month, said she fired Neuheisel for gambling on NCAA basketball and for lying to NCAA investigators when initially questioned about his involvement.

Neuheisel has sued the NCAA and university over his dismissal. He has said he never took part in gambling on-campus.

The NCAA letter of inquiry, initially reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, also found $3 to $5 NCAA basketball pools in the football office from 2000-02 that were organized by a former graduate assistant coach.

The letter also alleged that Richardson, an equipment manager and five trainers took part in NCAA basketball pools off-campus, and that golf coach Matt Thurmond paid $50 to take part in an NBA fantasy league.

It also included a charge that a boat was improperly used to transport football recruits. The NCAA findings echo those laid out in a preliminary Pac-10 investigation that was released in November.



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