Tupou to return to Ducks following one-game suspension

Updated: September 3, 2008, 5:36 PM ET
Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou will return to the Ducks on Saturday against Utah State after serving a one-game suspension because he received improper benefits from the representative of a management company.

However, the representative, Tim Norling, strongly denies the explanation offered by Oregon and Tupou.

According to the university, Tupou met with Norling, a representative of Arizona-based LMM Sports Management, at a Eugene restaurant in July. The representative paid for the $10 meal and passed Tupou five $20 bills in a handshake, the school said.

Tupou said he tried to give the money back, the school said in a statement, but it was refused.

Tupou reported the incident last week to Bill Clever, the athletic department's executive assistant director for compliance. The Pac-10 and the NCAA were notified, and Tupou turned in the $100, the school said.

In an e-mail Wednesday to The Associated Press, Norling said he was not in Oregon in July but in June, and he did not intentionally pay for Tupou's meal. He strongly denied passing Tupou $100.

"What I do know is this; I DID NOT GIVE HIM ANY MONEY. His statement that he tried to give 'the $20 bills' back to me on numerous occasions is ridiculous," Norling wrote. "It never happened. At the end of the meal the player got into a late-model Escalade and drove away."

Norling also said he had been fully advised of NCAA rules by the firm, owned by Ethan Lock, Eric Metz and Vance Malinovic.

"I strongly deny that this occurred and feel the need to respond because of the embarrassment that this accusation has caused me and my employer," Norling said.

Metz issued a statement on behalf of the firm, saying it was "shocked and appalled" at the allegations.

"We take this accusation of our employee very seriously and we are in the process of investigating this matter. We have been in the representation business for 25 years. We have built our company and pride ourselves on doing things ethically," Metz said.

The NCAA on Friday suspended Tupou for one game and ordered him to donate the improper inducement and the cost of the $10 meal to charity.

"I'm sorry that I allowed myself to be put in this situation," Tupou said. "I apologized to my teammates and coaches. It will not happen again."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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