KENT, Wash. -- Washington's former compliance director, testifying in Rick Neuheisel's lawsuit against the school and the NCAA, said Thursday she had hoped to provide guidance on NCAA basketball pools to athletes and staff but "got hung up."
Dana Richardson outlined her thinking in issuing a March 1999 e-mail that authorized participation in March Madness pools. At the time, she was Washington's compliance coordinator, which she characterized as an entry-level position.
Later, after being promoted to compliance director, she wrote a March 2003 e-mail that mirrored the earlier memo. The NCAA has since concluded that her memos incorrectly interpreted rules against gambling.
Neuheisel, the school's former football coach, has maintained that he relied on the two memos when he joined neighbors in auction-style NCAA basketball pools in which thousands of dollars were wagered.
When he was questioned about it by NCAA investigators on June 4, 2003, Neuheisel at first denied participating but recanted later that day. The university cited his dishonesty as the main reason he was fired days later.
Questioned by Neuheisel attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Richardson said she consulted NCAA bylaw 10.3 -- the gambling rule -- when she wrote the first e-mail in 1999. She concluded the rule was created to address organized gambling.
"The whole threat of gambling in college is that someone would change the outcome of games," Richardson testified. "Certainly, putting in $5 in a pool would have no threat to the outcome of a game."
Richardson testified that she sent a draft of her 1999 e-mail for review to supervisors -- Rob Aronson, Washington's former NCAA faculty representative, and former compliance director Ralph Bayard.
She got no response.
"What did you draw from that silence?" Vance asked.
"That it was accurate information and it was permissible to send it out," Richardson answered, adding that she did distribute the e-mail to Washington's entire athletic department.
She said she merely wanted to offer guidance to athletes, coaches and staff about participation in pools during the tournament.
"I didn't really start out to tell everyone if they could be or should be in pools," Richardson said. "I really just started out to provide some information and got hung up."
At Vance's request, Richardson also drew a March Madness bracket on an easel to help jurors understand how the NCAA basketball tournament operates, as well as how the pools are usually run.
Earlier in the day, Aronson was on the witness stand. Questioned by university attorney Lou Peterson, he said Neuheisel tried to skirt an NCAA sanction when he was banned from off-campus recruiting in 2003.
The penalty stemmed from violations committed when Neuheisel coached at Colorado from 1996-99.
Since Neuheisel couldn't leave Washington's campus to recruit, Aronson said he learned that the coach had proposed setting up a closed-circuit video link that would allow him to talk with recruits in their homes.
Advised that doing so would violate NCAA rules, Aronson testified that Neuheisel then indicated he wanted to videotape a message to recruits and have assistant coaches play it during home visits.
That suggestion was also rejected.
Neuheisel was told, "If it didn't violate the letter, it certainly violated the spirit of the NCAA rule, and that it could reopen the issue and lead to additional sanctions," Aronson testified.