In hot water
Neuheisel under investigation for NCAA hoops poolPosted: Thursday June 05, 2003 9:40 AM
Updated: Friday June 06, 2003 1:41 AM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington officials met Thursday to discuss the future of football coach Rick Neuheisel, one day after he said he participated in a college basketball tournament gambling pool the past two years.
No decision was immediately announced, and the athletic department had no comment. Interim president Lee Huntsman was in meetings with athletic officials and did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The Seattle Times reported Thursday that Neuheisel participated in informal NCAA basketball pools the last two years. Two NCAA investigators and one from the Pac-10 Conference questioned him Wednesday after receiving a tip that he put up $5,000 and won about $20,000 by picking Maryland in 2002, the newspaper reported.
NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard said Thursday that he could not comment.
The NCAA manual specifies that coaches, staff members and athletes may not knowingly "solicit or accept a bet on any intercollegiate competition for any item [e.g., cash, shirt, dinner] that has tangible value."
"I never in my wildest dreams imagined I was doing anything to jeopardize my employment," Neuheisel told the Times after meeting with investigators. "I don't think I would ever put myself in that situation knowingly, but I'm hopeful I can be the coach at Washington. I'd certainly like to be."
Neuheisel met with his team Thursday evening in a previously scheduled meeting but did not talk with reporters.
"He was just saying, 'Stay focused and get ready for the season,'" freshman quarterback Isaiah Stanback said. "That's pretty much all he said."
Several players entering and leaving the meeting said they supported the coach.
Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges said she learned of Neuheisel's involvement in the betting pool Wednesday.
"Gambling is a serious violation of NCAA rules," Hedges said. "You can't minimize this. The university will take this very seriously."
The kind of pool Neuheisel described is not against state law unless a bookmaker is involved, but NCAA rules forbid any form of gambling on college sports by athletes and coaching staff.
Institutions can be sanctioned in such cases if violations were known to college officials or if the NCAA finds they should have known.
The Times reported that the NCAA investigators also questioned Neuheisel about two potential minor violations.
Neuheisel's most recent indiscretion was in February, when he issued a statement through the university denying he had been interviewed for the San Francisco 49ers head-coaching vacancy -- then admitted he had in fact been interviewed.
Thursday is the deadline for the Huskies to report to the NCAA that Neuheisel has fulfilled all compliance requirements concerning 50 minor violations that were committed while he coached at Colorado from 1995-98.
Neuheisel has a 33-15 record in four seasons with the Huskies.
Under a six-year contract extension he signed in September, he
makes $1.2 million a year, and a five-year option could keep him at
Washington until 2013.