Neuheisel expected to testify this week

Updated: February 8, 2005, 9:36 PM ET
Associated Press

KENT, Wash. -- Rick Neuheisel's lawyer painted a contrast Monday between what University of Washington officials said publicly about the coach's firing and what they told NCAA and Pac-10 investigators during closed hearings.

Dana Richardson
APDana Richardson, pictured Thursday during testimony, faced more questioning on Monday.

Neuheisel is suing Washington and the NCAA, claiming he was unfairly fired as football coach in June 2003, and that NCAA officials pressured then-athletic director Barbara Hedges to fire him.

He's expected to testify this week, possibly as early as Wednesday, in the King County Superior Court trial.

At a news conference to discuss Neuheisel's firing on June 12, 2003, Hedges cited dishonesty and said the coach lied when first questioned by NCAA investigators who had asked about his gambling.

After the forum changed to hearings with Pac-10 investigators and later the NCAA's infractions committee, Neuheisel's high-stakes gambling on NCAA basketball often was cited as a top reason for his dismissal.

On Monday, Neuheisel lawyer Bob Sulkin grilled Karen Nyrop, an assistant state attorney general, on the differences. As a lawyer handling university legal issues, she presented Washington's case before the Pac-10 and the NCAA.

Nyrop testified that when she went before the Pac-10, she listed as reasons for the firing:

  • Gambling in high-stakes pools;

  • Gambling in a small-stakes pool within the football office;

  • "Poor judgment" and a history of NCAA rules violations;

  • Lack of remorse when censured by the American Football Coaches Association;

  • His "initial untruthfulness" when Neuheisel told Hedges he hadn't interviewed for the San Francisco 49ers' coaching job in February 2003 and again during his interview with NCAA investigators who asked about gambling.

"You didn't say he was fired for dishonesty?" Sulkin asked.

"No," Nyrop answered.

Nyrop also testified that shortly after Neuheisel admitted taking part in auction-style NCAA basketball pools, she asked NCAA investigator Rachel Newman if the coach could tell a reporter waiting outside the hearing room that he participated in an auction.

"I asked ... if he could say he participated in an auction, not gambling. They did not agree to that," Nyrop said.

Earlier, former UW compliance director Dana Richardson acknowledged she didn't review all the information available on the NCAA's rules against sports betting before issuing the memo that Neuheisel claims gave him permission to gamble in pools.

Neuheisel won $18,523 in auction-style pools on the 2002 and 2003 NCAA basketball tournaments.

Richardson testified that she reviewed NCAA bylaw 10.3 -- the gambling rule -- and an Internet database of NCAA rules interpretations before writing the March 2003 memo, which NCAA and university officials said mistakenly authorized gambling in "March Madness" pools.

NCAA rules prohibit gambling on college sports by athletes, coaches and athletic department staff.

University lawyer Lou Peterson asked Richardson during cross-examination if her review was as comprehensive as it could have been. He wanted to know if she could have consulted the NCAA's infractions database to study gambling cases.

"Maybe for some people," Richardson answered. "But not normally for me."

Peterson asked Richardson if the NCAA infractions database provided information -- available to compliance officers at member schools -- on penalties imposed in cases involving gambling in NCAA tournament pools.

"I don't think I've ever gone to it. I've been told there are infractions for participation in pools," she said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press