Taking jersey might have been violation

Updated: February 2, 2005, 9:50 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- University of Washington basketball guard Nate Robinson will return a Chicago Bears jersey given to him by a former Huskies football player because accepting it may have been an NCAA violation.

Terry Johnson gave one of his Bears' jerseys to Robinson, a junior who is the leading scorer for the Huskies (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today; No. 13 AP), after the basketball team's Pac-10 victory Saturday at Arizona State. As a freshman, Robinson played on the Washington football team with Johnson.

"I'll definitely give it back," Robinson told reporters before Tuesday's practice. "It was just a slight misunderstanding with the NCAA and everything. I've known Terry for three years.

"He's been my friend," Robinson said. "We've been talking a whole bunch. Every since I was a freshman, he's been telling me he would give me a jersey once he made it to the NFL. He gave it to me as a friendship bond, but now I'm going to give it back."

The school advised Robinson to return the jersey but officials said they weren't sure if it was a violation.

"It's kind of a gray area," Washington athletics spokesman Dan Lepse said. "We decided it's better to eliminate any appearance of impropriety and return the jersey. It's simpler to return it."

Robinson said he wanted to stay within the rules.

He said he will be allowed to accept the jersey from Johnson after he leaves school. He considered leaving the Huskies after his sophomore season to enter the NBA draft, but decided to stay at Washington for at least this season. He hasn't said if he plans to return next year.

Coach Lorenzo Romar said Tuesday that athletic director Todd Turner had reviewed the gift.

"Rules are in place for a reason," Romar said.

Robinson, son of former Washington star running back Jacque Robinson, is averaging 16.7 points this season. He scored 23 points to lead the Huskies to a 79-70 victory over Arizona State on Saturday as they moved back into a tie for first place in the conference at 7-2 with Arizona (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP). The Huskies are 17-3 overall.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press