Cheaters never win

Reports: Minnesota receives four years probation from NCAA

Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2000

MINNEAPOLIS -- As punishment for what it calls the worst rules violations in 20 years, the NCAA put the University of Minnesota men's basketball program on probation for four years and cut scholarships, according to published reports and also a school official who requested anonymity.

The Gophers will not be banned from another year of postseason play, although that was considered, the reports said.

In what appears to be a victory for the university, the NCAA infractions committee imposed little more punishment than what already was self-imposed by the school, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported Monday night.

The school official, who asked not to be identified, confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday night the substance of the newspapers' reports.

The NCAA commended Minnesota for its investigation and comprehensive self-punishment, which included an offer to repay 90 percent of its money for playing in the 1994, 1995 and 1997 NCAA basketball tournaments, the newspapers reported.

But the NCAA ordered that team records from the NCAA tournament and National Invitation Tournament -- and the tournament records of players engaged in academic fraud from 1993-94 through 1998-99 -- be vacated. That includes the Final Four season of 1997, the Star Tribune reported.

Former coach Clem Haskins' record will also lose those tournament victories and any mention of the Final Four appearance.

The NCAA Infractions Committee's report found that Jan Gangelhoff, a former office manager in the university's academic counseling unit, completed coursework for at least 18 basketball players -- and that former academic adviser Alonzo Newby arranged the work with Haskins' knowledge, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press reported.

''The violations were significant, widespread and intentional,'' the NCAA ruled, according to the Star Tribune. ''More than that, their nature -- academic fraud -- undermined the bedrock foundation of a university and the operation of its intercollegiate athletics program.''

A university official who asked not to be named confirmed to AP the substance of the media reports.

''I think honestly it was better than we expected in some respects ... the report itself indicates it was the university's strong response and the university's thorough investigation that led to the decision not to impose further postseason play sanctions,'' the official said.

''It's never good news to have the NCAA say this is one of the worst academic fraud scandals in 20 years. The good news is they took into account the good measures the university has already taken,'' the official said.

The scandal broke in March 1999 when Gangelhoff came forward to say she wrote more than 400 papers for as many as 20 basketball players between 1993 and 1998.

Minnesota officials highlighted the self sanctions in April at a hearing before the NCAA Infractions Committee, and pointed out that ties were severed to most of the people closely linked to the scandal. That included Haskins, who accepted a $1.5 million buyout about five months after the story broke.

The NCAA committee has weighed those facts against what has been called one of the most serious cases of academic fraud in recent history.

Other high-profile penalties handed down in the past 10 or 15 years -- such as sanctions against UNLV, Kansas and Kentucky -- dealt mostly with recruiting violations. The Minnesota case is rare for the scope of the on-campus fraud.

Second-year coach Dan Monson compared waiting for the NCAA decision to being like a child waiting for the spanking he'll get when his father gets home.

But the scandal has been more than frustrating for Monson and other Minnesota officials. It has hurt recruiting.

Center Rick Rickert of Duluth, Minnesota's top high-school prospect and one of the nation's top recruits, delayed announcing his college choice until Wednesday. He was considering Minnesota and Arizona.

In March 1999, the day before the Gophers started play in the NCAA tournament, the Pioneer Press reported that Gangelhoff admitted writing papers for players.

The story prompted a nine-month, $2.2 million investigation by the university. Federal prosecutors are still looking into the case.

Minnesota and the NCAA allege that Newby steered players to Gangelhoff and that Haskins rewarded her. Investigators also say that Newby helped get grades or classes changed to keep several players eligible and that Haskins told players to lie after the story broke.

Haskins admitted -- after several denials -- that he paid Gangelhoff $3,000 cash to tutor a student after she was ordered to stay away from the team. Minnesota is suing to retrieve the $1.5 million buyout given Haskins, claiming he broke school and NCAA rules and violated his contract when he admitted paying Gangelhoff.

The Infractions Committee found 17 instances of major rules violations, including academic fraud, unethical conduct and extra benefits to student athletes, the Star Tribune reported. Players were given favorable grades and scheduling favors to stay eligible to play basketball.

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