Dollar suspended a month, his activities curtailed
SEATTLE -- University of Washington assistant basketball coach Cameron Dollar has been suspended without pay for one month for a series of recruiting violations, athletics director Barbara Hedges said Wednesday.
Dollar also was banned from off-campus recruiting for the rest of the academic school year and had his pay reduced by 20 percent until April 2003 for roughly two dozen violations that included improper evaluations of prospective recruits, phone calls and face-to-face meetings with prospects and their family members. The suspension and pay cut will cost him $13,334.
"I blew it," said a tearful Dollar. "I've shown the university in a bad light, and for that I'm sorry."
Allegations of violations were first reported on ESPN.com in August.
Hedges said one of the violations alone would not be serious. But the collection of infractions needed to be dealt with quickly.
"We will not tolerate recruiting violations," Hedges said.
Hedges said she never considered firing Dollar.
Head coach Lorenzo Romar, who brought Dollar with him from Saint Louis when he was hired by the UW in April, said he was disappointed in Dollar but still considered him a "man of integrity."
"He has made some serious mistakes," Romar said, fighting tears himself when speaking of Dollar. "But his ability to respond from his mistakes has shown me once again the champion he is."
Dollar said he knew he was bending the rules, but his eagerness to resurrect the Washington program clouded his judgment.
Dollar, who initially acknowledged only a few of the violations, said he panicked when interviewed by NCAA officials.
"This is the first time I've ever been questioned about my methods," Dollar said. "It was a frightful thought."
The university and the NCAA began joint investigations after Gonzaga coach Mark Few, Eastern Washington coach Ray Giacoletti and Washington State coach Paul Graham complained to the NCAA about multiple instances of contacts between Dollar and high school athletes during so-called "quiet" or "dead" recruiting periods.
The university's report, released Wednesday, did not identify the athletes with whom Dollar had contact. But ESPN.com and the Seattle Times earlier reported that most of the violations centered around a 6-foot-9 Clarkston High junior, 16-year-old center Josh Heytvelt. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Thursday that others involved Bremerton High School junior Marvin Williams, a 6-8 forward.
According to the reports, Dollar called a prospect -- believed to be the 6-foot-9 Heytvelt -- at least nine times last spring, during his sophomore year. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from contacting a prospect before March of his junior year.
Hedges said the university would not initiate further contact with the prospect but that he was free to contact the school.
Dollar also had improper contact with two other prospects or their families, the report said. In one case, Dollar spoke privately with a player's mother. In another, he spoke with a prospect who was among several students participating in a basketball tournament on the UW campus. Both of those contacts took place outside of the time period permitted by the NCAA.
Another assistant, Ken Bone, received a letter of caution for improper contact with a player. Romar got a letter of reprimand and another assistant, Lance LaVetter, a verbal caution for possible NCAA violations.
The university will send the written report to the Pac-10 within the next week. University officials will meet with the league compliance committee Dec. 9 in Los Angeles. The committee will then send its recommendation to the NCAA, which is conducting its own investigation.
Robert Aronson, law professor and faculty athletics representative, said the basketball program likely won't be punished by the Pac-10 or the NCAA.
"It's my belief that we took responsible and substantial action and they will accept that," Aronson said.
In 1999, Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel and his staff were found to have made improper home visits during a "quiet" recruiting period. Huskies coaches were sanctioned with additional limits in the next season's contact periods.
Washington also was penalized for improper phone calls to Neuheisel's former players at Colorado.
Last summer, the NCAA interviewed University of Colorado officials and Neuheisel as part of an investigation of 53 alleged recruiting violations by the school between 1995 and 1999. Neuheisel was coach at Colorado from 1995 to 1998.
The allegations include improper visits with recruits and violations of apparel policies.
Heytvelt, who averaged 10 points and seven rebounds a game as a sophomore, told the Post-Intelligencer after the news conference he has not eliminated Washington or any other schools from consideration,
"I really didn't know it was illegal that they couldn't come over," Heytvelt said.
"Right now, I don't know who I'm interested in," he added. "I'm getting pounded by a lot of schools. I'm getting pounded by my coach, who wants me to narrow it to five schools. I'm interested in everybody."
Williams also told the newspaper he was not ruling out the Huskies.
"He's a good guy, that Cameron," Williams said. "Yeah, they're all good people up there. I'm sure he didn't mean to do anything wrong."
Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press
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