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'No coach was involved,' Holtz says

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Lou Holtz promised to take South Carolina football into the national spotlight. The school's NCAA violations aren't likely the attention he was seeking, however.

Holtz did not return phone messages by The Associated Press at his Florida home Wednesday or Thursday. At a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada on Thursday, Holtz said the violations didn't involve "any real major stuff that happened."

"No coach was involved," he said, according to an interview transcript provided by the tournament. "The major fallacy was that we tutored two young men, or I guess the academic people tutored two young men before they attended the university.

"Five of the violations were reported by us," Holtz continued, "there was no money involved, no recruiting violations, no enticements, but nevertheless, we don't want any marks against us."

The university admitted to 10 violations in a summary disposition report released Wednesday. It agreed with the NCAA enforcement staff that five of the violations were major. South Carolina classified the other five as secondary, although the NCAA disagreed and called one of the five major, an issue that will no doubt get taken up when the NCAA Committee on Infractions discusses the report in the coming weeks.

With Holtz named in only the most minor of ways in the report, do the violations cloud his successful tenure?

"I don't know if it changes anything," said former Gov. Jim Hodges, who was cited for an NCAA violation when he talked to prospects (governors are ex-officio members of the university's board of trustees). "Lou did a lot of good things for the university."

That was certainly the case early on when Holtz stunned the football world (and probably most South Carolina fans) by going from 0-11 in 1999 to 17-7 and consecutive Outback Bowl victories in 2000 and 2001 -- the best two-year stretch in school history.

When news broke in 2002 that the NCAA was looking into South
Carolina, Holtz angrily defended his program.

"They don't think we can win without cheating," Holtz said at
the time. "They don't think we can recruit without cheating and
this is nonsense."

The school has proposed penalties of two years' probation, losing
four football scholarships over two seasons and reducing its
on-campus paid recruiting visits.

The 80-page summary disposition report largely leaves Holtz out
of transgressions.

The most serious violations involved the conduct of former
athletic administrator Tom Perry and former football strength and
condition coach Pat Moorer.

The report said Perry provided academic assistance to a pair of
recruits who had signed with South Carolina but had not yet
enrolled.

In Holtz's interview with NCAA investigators, the coach said he
had no knowledge of tutoring assistance being provided. He "did
say the football staff might have monitored" the progress of an
incoming player who was at Midlands Technical College, according to the report.

The NCAA report found that Moorer was the "chief actor" in
conducting out-of-season athletics activities for football student
athletes. Holtz said in the report he had no knowledge of Moorer
conducting mandatory summer workouts or punishing or compelling makeup workouts for those players who missed sessions. Holtz noted to investigators, "I assume players would go."

As far as Gov. Hodges' contact with prospects, Holtz told
investigators he was "as shocked as anybody" to see the chief
executive.

Holtz said he did not know such contact violated NCAA rules
until after the fact.

Holtz has kept a very low profile in the state since leaving
South Carolina in November. In June, ESPN announced that Holtz would join the network as a college football studio analyst.

Recently retired athletic director Mike McGee, who brought Holtz out of retirement in December 1998 and
then hired Steve Spurrier as football coach after this last season,
has said Holtz was disappointed how his final year ended.

He wasn't the only one. University president Andrew Sorensen
said the violations "certainly cast our university in a light that
no one in the Carolina family condones."

Still, Holtz was optimistic about the Gamecocks chances under
Spurrier, even with NCAA sanctions. "He's a winner," he said at
the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. "We took the program from the bottom. We made it very respectable in the SEC. I think he can take it to the next step."