Tapes support notes claiming former coach lied

8/21/2003 - Washington Huskies

SEATTLE -- Former Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel
told NCAA investigators he never gambled, then later acknowledged
his involvement in neighborhood NCAA basketball pools.

Audio tapes released Thursday showed Neuheisel lied when
initially questioned by the NCAA about gambling. The organization
considers gambling a major rules violation.

The tapes support handwritten notes, released last month, from
the meeting. Neuheisel was fired July 28 as Washington's coach for
participating in the pools and for not being forthcoming with NCAA

"I never placed a bet on anything," Neuheisel said early in
the tapes, recorded June 4 when NCAA investigators first met with

A short time later, he was asked whether he had any concerns
about going to the event in 2002 and 2003. Teams of neighbors
pooled money and bid on NCAA Tournament teams in an auction-style

"I won't go again, if that's the question," Neuheisel said,
laughing. "No, I didn't have any concerns at all. I know we can't
gamble. I know I can't place a bet or anything like that, but I
wasn't. I was just there watching."

The university released three NCAA-produced tapes, which also
were given to Washington athletic officials and Neuheisel's

The tapes were obtained under public disclosure laws by The
Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The nearly 60 minutes of recordings covered three separate
interviews on June 4. The meetings eventually led to Neuheisel's
firing. Keith Gilbertson was named coach the next day.

Attorney Bob Sulkin said Thursday he plans to file a lawsuit
against the NCAA and the university, challenging the firing. He
wouldn't disclose when a filing is expected.

He expressed little concern the tapes would affect their case.

"The tapes are consistent with what we have been saying all
along. There's no news here," Sulkin said.

He also criticized Washington and NCAA officials for mishandling
a tape that includes the first portion of the interviews. Sulkin
contends it contains key information.

"The NCAA is conducting an investigation and can't even keep
evidence from being lost," he said.

According to a statement released by the university, NCAA
officials had "a problem in the recording procedure during the
initial part of the first interview. Side one of the first cassette
tape did not record."

NCAA officials didn't immediately respond to telephone messages.

Sulkin said Neuheisel's responses would seem much different if
the original context was available because the questioning implied
a possible connection to illegal organized gambling.

"I find it incredible that key evidence has been ... lost or
destroyed," Sulkin said. "Not all the facts are out. When they're
all laid out on the table, people will see the truth."

Notes by university administrators, released last month, showed
most of the missing questioning centered on potential NCAA

On the tapes, NCAA investigators told Neuheisel that others had
corroborated a tip from a confidential source, who reported his

When investigators asked for names of people who could support
his story, Neuheisel told them he wanted to talk to an attorney.

"Obviously, somebody's got some witch hunt here," Neuheisel
said. "I want to know why, and I want to know who and then I want,
then I'll be totally candid with you."

Offered the opportunity "to come clean," Neuheisel asked to
speak with an attorney and his partners in the gambling pool. The
interview was stopped, but Neuheisel explained his involvement
after the meeting reconvened.

"I did not consider it gambling on college sports, although now
that I'm sitting here, I realize it may be contrary to other
opinions," he said.

He said on the tapes that his team's winnings were "around
$5,000" but didn't know for certain.

In later interviews with reporters, Neuheisel said he invested
$6,400 and won $12,123 in his two years participating in the
auctions. He said he donated some winnings to charity and the
parent teacher association at his children's school.

In the tapes, Neuheisel never mentions a March 13 memo from
Washington compliance director Dana Richardson -- also present at
the meeting -- informing athletic department employees they may
participate in off-campus pools.

Three days later, Neuheisel made the memo public. It has been
the basis for his defense.

On the tapes, Neuheisel is told investigators have information
that he took part in NCAA pools the past two years, in which he
responds: "I was at both of these events."

But when told of information that he bet $7,000 and won $25,000
on Maryland in 2002, he denies it.

"That is incorrect," he said, later noting, "I was just
watching" when the auctions took place.

At one point, Neuheisel acknowledged participating in basketball
office pools while working at UCLA and Colorado and that he may
have done so at Washington. He later said he may have participated
in a $5 March Madness pool in 1999, his first year at Washington.

Neuheisel started Wednesday as a volunteer assistant at Rainier
Beach High School. He refused to discuss his legal situation during
brief remarks at the school.

"That's for another time, another place," Neuheisel said.