Toledo finds missing e-mail in NCAA betting case; feds continue probe

Updated: June 8, 2007, 9:28 AM ET
By George J. Tanber and Mike Fish | ESPN.com

TOLEDO, Ohio -- University of Toledo officials released a previously missing e-mail Thursday from the NCAA that appeared to clear the athletic program of any wrongdoing while concluding an investigation into unusual betting activity on a Toledo game last fall.

The Nov. 6 e-mail from Rachel Newman-Baker, the NCAA's point person on gambling, was deleted by UT athletics director Mike O'Brien before anyone with the university had seen it, UT officials said.

News of the e-mail surfaced last month when Toledo president Lloyd Jacobs told ESPN.com that an NCAA investigator alerted officials last fall to reports of heavy betting on the Oct. 14 UT-Kent State game. This spring, the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit revealed that federal investigators are probing allegations of point-shaving in the UT football and basketball programs dating to 2003.

Jacobs said the NCAA probe was initiated after gaming officials in Las Vegas alerted the NCAA about a significant bet placed on the UT-Kent game. Newman-Baker discussed the situation Oct. 11 during a three-hour meeting with O'Brien, Toledo football coach Tom Amstutz and athletics faculty representative James Kline.

"They came, took a look at our program, gave us a clean bill of health and went back," said Jacobs, referring to the NCAA. "I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it."

Jacobs conceded he never saw the e-mail but was assured by other Toledo officials that everything was OK.

The e-mail from Newman-Baker was sent to O'Brien in response to an e-mail sent by O'Brien earlier that day in which O'Brien asked Newman-Baker what the result was of the NCAA probe into the UT-Kent game.

The university tried to retrieve the e-mail from O'Brien's hard drive without success. O'Brien later found a hard copy of the e-mail in a file, according to UT spokesman Tobin Klinger.

In his e-mail, O'Brien wrote: "At the conclusion of the [Oct. 11] meeting, I asked what the next step would be and you indicated you would respond. With the meeting occurring almost a month ago, I thought I should contact you. I would assume that nothing has come of this and that you had nothing to share."

In her response to O'Brien, the first contact she had with him since Oct. 11, Newman-Baker said "no additional investigation was warranted at this time."

Klinger said on Thursday the university would not comment on the e-mail. Earlier, O'Brien also declined to comment on the e-mail matter.

Through a spokesperson, the NCAA repeatedly has declined ESPN.com requests for clarification on issues involving the Toledo situation, saying it is against policy to comment on "current, pending or potential investigations."

Jacobs said that in retrospect, after the points shaving allegations surfaced, he might have taken the initial probe five months earlier more seriously.

"Clearly, if I had been smarter or had clairvoyance, I might have taken it as a hint. I might have gone further and learned things on my own," he said. "But as I say, as president of an institution, if I'm told things are up to snuff in the operating room, I think that's good enough for me. So this did not raise any issues on my radar screen."

Meanwhile, the Detroit area gambler linked to the alleged points shaving scandal turned up on the Toledo football team's guest pass list for the 2004 Mid-American Conference championship, according to additional documents released by the university Thursday.

In documents previously released, Ghazi "Gary" Manni, a 50-year-old Detroit grocery store owner, also was included on the guest pass list for the Oct. 7 UT-Central Michigan game.

Manni could not be reached for comment Thursday. His attorney, Neil Fink, didn't return telephone messages.

In a federal complaint issued in March, investigators alleged that Toledo senior running back Harvey "Scooter" McDougle Jr. was involved in a point-shaving scheme with Manni and other Toledo players. The complaint was dropped in April, but federal authorities say the decision was procedural so they can continue their investigation. No other UT players have been named.

In its complaint, federal authorities say the alleged conspiracy began in 2003, when Manni met a Toledo football player through a cell phone store owner in Toledo. McDougle, who was a redshirt freshman in 2003, said he met Manni through another football player, whom he declines to identify.

In an interview with ESPN.com, McDougle, 22, says he talked to Manni "once in a while . . . He asked who I was playing and that was it, really. He was like, 'What teams we playing.' And that was it. There was no further conversation."

On the UT-Central Michigan pass list, Manni's name is in a grouping that includes three member's of McDougle's family -- Harvey McDougle, Xavier McDougle and Genenne McDougle. Citing privacy issues, Toledo officials declined to release the name of the player who invited Manni to the game. Manni did not sign the pass list and apparently did not attend the game.

At the MAC championship game on Dec. 2, 2004, Gary Manni Sr., is listed, along with Gerri Manni, Gerri Manni, Sr., Jason Manni and Jacob Manni. The relationship between the Mannis is not known. There are illegible signatures next to three of the Mannis -- Gary, Sr. Gerri, Sr. and Jacob -- meaning they attended the game.

McDougle ran for 167 yards in the game, a 35-27 victory by Toledo against Miami [of Ohio] University. He suffered a serious knee injury near the end of the game and has struggled to regain his form. Toledo suspended McDougle from the team after the allegations surfaced but he has retained his scholarship and is attending classes, Toledo officials said.

Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at michaeljfish@gmail.com. George J. Tanber is an ESPN.com contributor. He can be reached at george.tanber@iscg.net.

George J. Tanber is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com's golf coverage.

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