Lawsuit alleges Kentucky violations were well known

Updated: August 24, 2005, 9:46 PM ET
Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky head coach Hal Mumme and one of his assistants claimed high-ranking university officials knew of NCAA violations being committed by the football program in the late 1990s, according to a court filing made in a lawsuit by another former assistant.

The filing was made by attorneys for Claude Bassett as part of a federal lawsuit against the university's athletic association and the NCAA. It includes a summary of testimony made by former assistant Tony Franklin and an affidavit from Mumme.

Franklin testified last week that recruiting violations occurred both before and after Bassett was hired in 1997, and that Bassett wasn't the only one at Kentucky who committed violations.

According the Franklin's testimony, violations occurred "with the implied consent" and "to some extent, with [the] participation" of administrators including former university president Charles Wethington, former athletic directors C.M. Newton and Larry Ivy and the university's current NCAA compliance director, Sandy Bell.

Franklin alleged that Ivy told him that he "wanted to cover up these violations and avoid scandal to the university by firing Coach Bassett," according to the filing, and that Ivy went to Franklin "specifically looking for evidence to fire Coach Bassett," which Franklin provided.

Reached Wednesday night, Kentucky athletic department spokesman Scott Stricklin declined comment on the filing until university lawyers have seen it. However, he did defend Bell, saying "she's as thorough, and adheres to NCAA regulations as closely, as any compliance director you'll find."

Bassett, Kentucky's former recruiting coordinator for football, was the central figure in an NCAA investigation that led to major sanctions. He sued, claiming the defendants -- a group that originally included the Southeastern Conference -- conspired to keep him from landing another college job, and asked for $50 million in damages.

Bassett resigned in November 2000, shortly before the NCAA began investigating allegations of wrongdoing in Kentucky's program. In 2002, the NCAA placed Kentucky on probation for more than three dozen recruiting violations committed between 1998 and 2000. It banned the Wildcats from a bowl game for one season and ordered the forfeiture of 19 scholarships over a three-year period.

Bassett, who worked for Mumme, was found in violation of NCAA ethical conduct bylaws and effectively was banned from working for any NCAA school for eight years. At the time, Bassett acknowledged breaking NCAA recruiting rules.

Bassett now is the athletics director and football coach at a high school in Robstown, Texas, near Corpus Christi.

Mumme, now the head coach at New Mexico State, said in his affidavit that during a meeting between himself and Ivy the day after the 2000 season finale, that Ivy "seemed anxious to find some violation by Bassett."

Bassett later was called to the meeting and asked to resign, which he did. Mumme said that he understood that in exchange for Bassett's resignation, "he would not be investigated or prosecuted for any alleged violations and that any accusations of wrongdoing would end there."

Mumme also said that Bell later told him "that it would be in the university's best interest if everything was tied to Claude Bassett, and that they would dump all the problems in Claude Bassett's lap."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press