Four Minnesota players declared ineligible for game
Posted: Thursday March 11, 1999 08:03 PM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Minnesota is finished in the NCAA tournament. The investigation is far from over.
Shaken by an academic scandal, the Gophers were eliminated by Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday as four of Minnesota players were suspended hours before the game.
The action came one day after the Saint Paul Pioneer Press quoted a former university employee as saying she had done course work for at least 20 players in the basketball program, including four on the current squad.
Five hours before tipoff, university president Mark Yudof announced that starters Kevin Clark and Miles Tarver, along with reserves Antoine Broxsie and Jason Stanford, were suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry into allegations of academic fraud.
Coach Clem Haskins wholeheartedly agreed with Yudof's decision.
"We don't put winning and losing ahead of what's right," Haskins said after the loss. "I've been that way for 55 years. I won't change tomorrow or today. ... Some people sell their souls to win. I don't do that. Never have, never will."
The scandal has enveloped Haskins' program in a cloud of uncertainty, a mood reflected in the quiet of the Gophers' locker room and the blank expressions on the faces of the four suspended players.
The depleted team quickly fell far behind the underdogs of Gonzaga, a small school seeded 10th in the tournament. After trailing by as many as 21 points early in the second half, the seventh-seeded Gophers cut the lead to two with 1:43 to go before losing 75-63.
The four players -- in matching black and white warmups -- sat glumly at the end of the bench during the game. The only times they got on the court was during timeouts, when they peered in from the edge of team huddles.
None spoke to reporters. They were not in the locker room after the game.
Clark, Tarver and Stanford - all seniors - left knowing they'd never play another college game.
"It was hard," said their senior teammate, Quincy Lewis. "They are my seniors. It was hard. Just leave it at that."
Haskins insisted he would keep his job.
"I have no doubt about that at all," he said.
The team heads home to Minneapolis and an investigation that's far from over.
"This is the type of thing that just tests your courage. It tests you as a Christian. It tests you as a man," Haskins said. "I've been tested many times. This is just one more test, for whatever reason, but I think we'll pass this test with flying colors."
Jan Gangelhoff, a former office manager in the university's academic counseling unit, told the Pioneer Press she wrote papers, helped with take-home exams and did other course work for players between 1993 and 1998.
Gangelhoff said she was taken on two of the team's road trips, including one to Hawaii, and considered it compensation for the work. She said she never was asked by coaches to do work for players, though she said Haskins once paid her $3,000 in cash to tutor a player.
Yudof said Haskins denied the allegation.
The Pioneer Press said four former players confirmed the woman's story.
"The coaches knew. Everybody knew," said former player Russ Archambault, a freshman on the 1997 Final Four team who left school before the next season. "We used to make jokes about it. ... I would go over there some nights and get like four papers done. The coaches would be laughing about it."
At a Minneapolis news conference, Yudof said the reputation of the university, its program and Haskins were at stake.
Yudof envisioned "fairly Draconian sanctions coming out if this proves to be true. The seriousness cannot be overstated."
Haskins, who said he knew nothing of any academic wrongdoing, accepted responsibility for the situation.
"I run the basketball program at the University of Minnesota, so yes I'm held responsible for that," he said. "The thing is you put your trust and faith in people but a man, from time to time, for whatever reason, will let you down."
A few rows behind the bench, a couple hundred fans, clad in Minnesota's maroon and gold, cheered their team.
Steve Erban of Stillwater, Minn., who flew in with 80 other fans Wednesday night, said he has seen all 16 of the Gophers' NCAA tournament games since Haskins came to the school.
"You feel something of an air of sadness, not anger against anyone," he said, "an air of sadness for the players, their parents, the fans.
As if things weren't bad enough, reserve forward-center Kyle Sanden twisted an ankle in practice Wednesday and was on crutches. That left eight players available. Two fouled out, so Haskins was down to six players by the finish.
The university conducted a 24-hour investigation before announcing the suspensions.
"We've seen some evidence," Yudof said. "I don't think we should characterize it beyond that. ... All we know is that the charges are certainly serious, and there seems to be enough evidence to support some of them."
Minnesota hired Haskins from Western Kentucky in 1986 after another scandal rocked the basketball program. Coach Jim Dutcher resigned after three players were accused of rape following a game at Wisconsin in 1986. Jimmy Williams, a Dutcher assistant, coached the final 11 games of the season, and Haskins took over for the 1986-87 season.
Haskins led his team to the Final Four two years ago and has 240 career victories with the Gophers, five short of the all-time school record.
Yudof called him "a great coach who has served this institution ably for many years."
But there was no doubt that tough days were ahead for him and the basketball program.
"It's way too premature to be talking about what the consequences of this could be," Dienhart said.
In an investigation involving another high profile program, an FBI inquiry into alleged mob ties to UCLA football players failed to uncover any evidence of wrongdoing.
The FBI began a sports-betting investigation after the Bruins, with a 10-0 record and strong contenders for the national title, lost to Florida and Wisconsin to close out last season.
"The FBI has told me we have nothing to be concerned about ... that it has no concerns regarding the conduct of UCLA or any of its student athletes," athletic director Peter Dalis said.
Timothy P. McNally, FBI assistant director in Los Angeles, said Thursday the investigation was complete and there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by any members of the team.
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