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College Basketball

NCAA hears Louisville's case on recruiting violations

'Death penalty' decision expected in 4 to 6 weeks

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Sunday August 09, 1998 06:01 PM

 

SEATTLE (AP) -- University of Louisville president John Shumaker and nine of his top athletics officials pleaded with the NCAA Division I Infractions Committee Sunday not to impose a one-year "death penalty" shutdown of men's basketball over recruiting violations.

At a nearly four-hour closed meeting, enforcement investigators and university officials discussed, among other things, an assistant coach's telephone call in 1996 that may have broken the five-year probation imposed by the NCAA two years ago.

Eight other violations occurred in the women's volleyball program. Although Louisville agreed with the NCAA on seven of the nine violations, two remained in contention.

Most of the violations pertained to recruiting efforts or giving athletes and their relatives extra benefits.

"We had a very good discussion. It was cordial, it was analytical, it was penetrating," said Shumaker as he left the hotel ballroom where the meeting was held. "It was not highly adversarial at all."

But Shumaker and athletic director Tom Jurich refused to speculate on the eight-member committee's decision, which is expected in four to six weeks.

A tight-lipped Jurich said, "The credit card. The room rate," when asked what remained at issue.

He referred to then-assistant men's basketball coach Carlton "Scooter" McCray's phone call to a hotel where Frederick Johnson, the father of player Nate Johnson, was staying.

Investigators said McCray obtained a substantial discount on the room rate, and left his Diners' Club card with hotel managers to prevent Johnson from being evicted from his room for failure to pay his bills.

However, Louisville has contended its internal investigation showed a former assistant manager of the hotel provided the discount on her own, and said the phone call was not made until two weeks after Johnson's stay began.

McCray admitted leaving the card but said he never intended to pay the bill himself.

The Infractions Committee could stop short of the "death penalty" with other punishment or accept Louisville's self-imposed penalties as sufficient.

"I think we took dramatic steps, painful steps, and whether that is sufficient, the committee will have to make the decision on that," Shumaker said.

Since the current investigation began, the university has transferred McCray to an administrative post. Head volleyball coach Leonard Yelin was suspended for a month without pay.

An assistant women's volleyball coach was reprimanded and the volleyball team's preseason trip to Japan last year was canceled.

Men's basketball coach Denny Crum, a 27-year veteran Hall of Fame coach who has led the Cardinals to two national championships, received a reprimand. His contract was renewed in March.

"I've seen no reason to fire him," Shumaker said Sunday.

The case, deemed "major" by the NCAA, has produced hundreds of pages of witness testimony during investigations by both Louisville and the NCAA staff.

Besides the hotel incident, all the other violations cited in this round occurred in the women's volleyball program.

Yelin and his staff were cited for providing the student-athletes with rides, lodging, financial aid, help with enrollment forms, and even paying a dentist's bill. The NCAA investigators said neither Yelin nor the university adequately monitored activities of the volleyball staff.

Although Louisville agreed the violations occurred, the university contended that it was not responsible for Yelin's lack of knowledge of the rules. Jurich and Shumaker said that question was still in dispute Sunday.

Jurich was named athletic director last year to succeed Bill Olsen, who retired. Jurich has said the department wants to comply fully with NCAA regulations.

The probation was imposed in 1996 for 10 violations -- six deemed major and four secondary. They involved an athlete's use of two cars and improper contacts or phone calls with recruits by assistant coaches.

At that time, Shumaker said the probation was a "warning signal" to the school.

The eight-person NCAA committee, headed by Oklahoma law professor David Swank, meets in different cities around the country.

 

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