SEATTLE -- Rick Neuheisel's lawyer addressed the Pac-10 compliance and enforcement commission Monday, arguing the former Washington football coach didn't know his involvement in NCAA basketball pools was wrong.
Neuheisel attended the 2½-hour hearing in San Francisco with his Seattle lawyer, Bob Sulkin.
Washington officials also took part, including athletic director
Barbara Hedges and faculty representative Robert Aronson.
Sulkin told commissioners that Neuheisel participated in a
high-stakes neighborhood "auction" of NCAA basketball teams
because an e-mail from Washington's compliance officer granted him
Commission members include faculty representatives Ken Casavant of Washington State and Don Morrison of UCLA; Stanford athletic director Ted Leland; and Teresa Kuehn, the senior woman's
administrator at California.
Sulkin confirmed there was some questioning of Neuheisel by
commission members but declined to disclose details.
University representatives agreed with a Pac-10 investigation
that determined Washington compliance officer Dana Richardson made
an erroneous interpretation of NCAA rules against gambling.
Richardson had issued a memo, a key part of Neuheisel's legal
defense, that said it was acceptable for athletic department staff
members to take part in off-campus NCAA basketball pools.
Washington's representatives told Pac-10 commissioners the
mistake didn't constitute a broader failure to educate athletic
department staffers about gambling. School officials believe their
corrective measures, including the firing of Neuheisel last summer,
The Pac-10 can accept Washington's corrective actions, which
included a letter of reprimand for Richardson and letters of
admonishment for football assistant coaches and other staffers who
gambled in $3 and $5 NCAA basketball pools.
Keith Gilbertson, who was promoted to head coach after Neuheisel was fired, was among the assistants who took part in pools.
The Pac-10 also could recommend additional corrective actions
against the university. The conference is expected to conclude its
portion of the investigation in March, then turn the findings over
to the NCAA.
Sulkin said if Richardson made "an honest mistake," then
Neuheisel should be afforded the same benefit of the doubt.
"We took the position that the Pac-10 found an honest mistake
by Dana Richardson," Sulkin said. "We pointed out to the
commission that Rick's reliance on her mistake was no less
Neuheisel is suing Washington and the NCAA, saying he was
wrongly fired and seeking unspecified damages.