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NCAA: University lacked institutional control

2/18/2004 - Washington Huskies

SEATTLE -- The NCAA cited the University of Washington -- but
not former football coach Rick Neuheisel -- on Tuesday for lack of
institutional control in the gambling flap that led to Neuheisel's
firing, the coach's lawyer said.

The NCAA found Neuheisel and other individuals broke rules
against gambling but did so unwittingly. The organization instead
cited the university for failing to adequately educate its coaches
and staff.

"The charges squarely put the responsibility for complying with
NCAA rules on the university itself," said Bob Sulkin, Neuheisel's
lawyer.

The finding is a first step toward what could be major sanctions
for Washington. In cases where "lack of institutional control" is
cited, the NCAA infractions committee typically imposes severe
penalties.

However, it may be difficult to determine an appropriate penalty in this case because it appears no competitive advantage in athletics was gained by the violation of NCAA rules against gambling.

The university issued a statement in which interim athletic
director Dick Thompson pledged to provide any information requested
by NCAA investigators. He said Washington will respond to the NCAA
findings by an April 26 deadline.

"We do not believe the specific allegations cited in the notice
constitute a lack of institutional control, and we will have an
opportunity to explain our view to the NCAA," Thompson said.

The case is scheduled to go before the NCAA infractions
committee in June.

An NCAA spokesman declined to comment.

Neuheisel was fired last summer after he admitted taking part in off-campus auction pools with neighbors during the last two NCAA basketball tournaments. Neuheisel bet $6,400 over the two years, winning $17,619.

The NCAA finding is not an outright victory for Neuheisel. A
Pac-10 investigation is continuing, and he still faces a possible
"show cause" sanction that would ban him from coaching in college
for an undetermined period.

Neuheisel has maintained that a memo written by former Washington
compliance director Dana Richardson, who resigned earlier this
month, gave him permission to take part in the pools.

"The charges make it very clear that the university failed to
educate those coaches and staff and indeed sent them incorrect
information," Sulkin said. "The university should accept
responsibility for its actions rather than blaming its coaches and
other members of the athletic department."

Former athletic director Barbara Hedges, who announced her
retirement last month, said she fired Neuheisel for gambling on
NCAA basketball and for lying to NCAA investigators when initially
questioned about his involvement.

Neuheisel has sued the NCAA and university over his dismissal. He has said he never took part in gambling on-campus.

The NCAA letter of inquiry, initially reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, also found $3 to $5 NCAA basketball pools in the football office from 2000 to 2002 that were organized by a former graduate assistant coach.

The letter also alleged that Richardson, an equipment manager
and five trainers took part in NCAA basketball pools off-campus,
and that golf coach Matt Thurmond paid $50 to take part in an NBA
fantasy league.

It also included a charge that a boat was improperly used to
transport football recruits. The NCAA findings echo those laid out
in a preliminary Pac-10 investigation that was released in
November.