School officials expect some penalties

Updated: April 22, 2004, 11:35 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Beginning Thursday, St. John's is playing host to NCAA investigators who will follow up on allegations from a former player that he was given monthly stipends of $300, The New York Post reports.

At least one NCAA representative will spend time on campus looking into the Red Storm accusations, school officials told the newspaper, and the NCAA gave St. John's a list of names of the people they wanted interviewed.

That list was not released Thursday, reports the Post, but it was likely that former coach Mike Jarvis, his staff and Red Storm players, including Keita, filled it out.

A source told The Post that St. John's is taking seriously the accusations of former center Abraham Keita, who said in early March that he'd received regular payments from a team staffer. Keita also alleged that he faced racial discrimination while on the team. The senior from West Africa came out with his allegations after being suspended for a year following an early Feb. incident involving four players at a strip club in Pittsburgh.

The investigation has no timetable, according to The Post.

"We're cooperating fully," St. John's athletics director David Wegrzyn told The Post. "We're working to respond to [the NCAA's] requests for whatever information that can be of assistance."

NCAA spokesman Kay Hawes told the newspaper that it was NCAA policy not to comment on the status of investigations. Steven Spielvogel, one of Keita's attorneys, declined to comment.

St. John's has consulted with a law firm, a source told the newspaper, as they anticipate NCAA penalties following the investigations. The school hired Norm Roberts as its new head coach on April 13th, and Roberts told The Post that he learned of the allegations when he interviewed for the Red Storm position. Roberts was a long-time assistant with Bill Self, who currently coaches at Kansas.

"I knew the whole situation going in," Roberts said.

Roberts replaces Jarvis, who was fired Dec. 19 and replaced by Kevin Clark, in the head coach spot.

Jarvis has denied his former player's allegations.

"If what I read in the paper is true [that there is an investigation], then I believe NCAA bylaws prohibit me from commenting, so I can't comment," Jarvis told The Post.

Kevin Clark, the now former interim coach of the Red Storm, and senior forward Kyle Cuffe also have disputed Keita's claims.

"No. Not at all," Clark said about players receiving payments from the staff.

Cuffe said Keita was being "childish and immature." Other teammates have said that Keita felt embittered by his suspension., according to The Post.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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