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Neuheisel did not think he was making a bet

2/17/2005 - Washington Huskies

KENT, Wash. -- Former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel
testified Wednesday that he did not consider it a bet when he
placed $6,400 on the men's NCAA basketball tournaments of 2002 and
2003, so he did not believe he had violated NCAA rules against
gambling.

"You were aware from your experience at NCAA Division I schools
... that it was against the rule to place a bet on intercollegiate
athletics?" University of Washington lawyer Lou Peterson asked him
during cross-examination in Neuheisel's lawsuit against the school
and the NCAA.

Neuheisel responded, "Yes, I did know that."

Peterson went on to question Neuheisel's assertion that his
participation involved bids, not bets. Peterson asked Neuheisel if
he had placed the money at risk.

"I guess in those terms it was," Neuheisel said, "but I did
not think of it that way at the time."

"Did you understand you may never see that money again?"
Peterson asked.

"Yes, and it didn't concern me. ... I didn't think of it as a
bet. It was a friendly pool," Neuheisel said.

He also admitted he didn't know of UW compliance officer Dana
Richardson's erroneous e-mail authorizing such pools when he took
part.

However, he said the message conveyed by the e-mail was at the
back of his mind. "I knew pool participation is not gambling per
se," Neuheisel said.

He later admitted he stopped participating in the
much-lower-stakes UW interdepartmental pool after his first season
in 1999, when the NCAA cracked down on them.

Neuheisel left the stand Wednesday after four days of testimony
in the King County Superior Court trial of his lawsuit. Neuheisel
contends Washington administrators wrongfully fired him in June
2003 under pressure from the NCAA.

School officials say he was fired for gambling on NCAA
basketball and for initially lying about the gambling when
questioned by NCAA investigators. He provided full answers to the
investigators later the same day.

The pools Neuheisel took part in in 2002 and 2003 were
auction-style pools conducted at high-rise office buildings in
Bellevue and Seattle. He and others spent thousands of dollars to
"own" a team and follow it through to the championship.

During cross-examination by NCAA lawyer John Aslin, Neuheisel
said he never read the association booklet "Don't Bet On It,"
though he oversaw meetings at which the booklets were handed out to
players.

The booklet has a section titled "NCAA Rules: No sports
wagering allowed" that reads, "You may not place any bet of any
sort on any college or professional sports event."

Responding to Aslin's questions, Neuheisel said, "Had I read
that, it would have clarified [the rule], though that would have
been contrary to the University of Washington memo which says just
the opposite."

Neuheisel contends the NCAA investigation of his participation
blindsided him and that he was unfairly targeted. Under questioning
from Aslin, he said he agreed that gambling threatens the integrity
of college sports and that it was fair for the NCAA to investigate
him, but said he had quarrels with how it was done.

Neuheisel said he was ambushed, at which point Aslin noted a
1999 NCAA rule that says investigators don't have to share
information about investigations with the targeted institution.

The former coach also continued to deny lying to NCAA
investigators when he told them he didn't participate in the
gambling pools, saying he merely provided incomplete information.

"I did not knowingly furnish false information," Neuheisel
said.

Neuheisel also alleged that Barbara Hedges, UW athletic director
at the time he was fired, and Karen Nyrop, an assistant state
attorney general, offered to try to delay news reports of his
untruthfulness if he would agree to settle rather than take his
case to court.

Earlier Wednesday, jurors listened to a tape recording of
Neuheisel's interview with NCAA investigators on June 4, 2003,
during which he repeatedly denied participating in gambling.

On the stand, Neuheisel said he'd tried to phrase his answers
"as carefully and as narrowly as I could."

On the tape, he told investigators, "I never placed a bet on
any team."

When investigators asked if he had concerns about going to the
auctions, he said: "I didn't have any concerns at all. I know we
can't gamble. I know that I can't place a bet or anything like
that. I was just there watching."

On Tuesday, his third full day on the stand, Neuheisel said he
didn't believe the pools were illegal because no money was being
retained by a house.

Peterson asked Neuheisel whether he "knew it was possible to
wager and win a lot of money?"

"I knew you could do well," answered Neuheisel, who won $4,799
on his $3,610 investment in 2002, and $7,324 on $2,790 in 2003.