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Gophers were in two certified events

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Minnesota women's basketball coach
on Thursday blamed miscommunication for the team's decision to pull
out of the Great Alaska Shootout.

Pam Borton said the school signed up for a second preseason
tournament a year ago, not realizing that both the Shootout and the
Women's Basketball Coaches Association Classic in Seattle were
NCAA-certified tournaments.

"We wouldn't schedule two certified events on purpose and then
cancel one of them," Borton said in a telephone interview.

Great Alaska Shootout host Alaska Anchorage, an NCAA Division II
school, announced this week that Minnesota had withdrawn. Its late
replacement for the Thanksgiving week tournament will be
Maryland-Eastern Shore. The field also includes Stanford, Eastern
Washington and UAA.

Alaska Anchorage athletic director Steve Cobb called the Golden
Gophers' move "very unethical" and said the school had had a
contract for more than a year. Borton called Cobb's comments "out
of context."

Borton said the Shootout contract was made by the previous
coaching staff three years ago. The contract with the WBCA Classic
was made about a year ago, she said.

"If we played in both of them, we'd have to forfeit all our
games next year," Borton said. "Obviously, that doesn't make
sense."

She said her school had made inquiries whether the Shootout was
a certified tournament but did not receive an answer from Alaska
Anchorage. Basketball Travelers, a national company that arranges
basketball tournaments, also did not know if the tournament was
certified, she said.

Gophers basketball officials last year got busy with the regular
and postseason, Borton said, which included a trip to the women's
Final Four. Her school probably should have been more aggressive in
finding out whether the Shootout was certified, she said.

"I think it was a miscommunication by both schools," Borton
said. "I don't want to put to put the blame on anybody."

She acknowledged that the men's Shootout, which last year
attracted nationally ranked powers Duke and Purdue, was a certified
tournament. Borton said Minnesota found out the women's tournament
was certified only a few weeks ago when the NCAA sent out a list.

The WBCA Classic, which will include Washington, South Carolina
and the University of Nevada Las Vegas on Nov. 11-15, includes a
five-figure penalty for cancellation. The Alaska tournament carries
no penalty for dropping out.

"The administration advised us to drop the Alaska tournament,"
Borton said.

Cobb said Minnesota gave him no reason for dropping out.

"They didn't give me the courtesy of an explanation," he said.

When the Shootout invitation was extended, Minnesota was nowhere
near a Top 10 team, he said. Alaska Anchorage wanted the Gophers in
the tournament because of the large number of transplanted
Minnesotans in Alaska, Cobb said.

"It's just real disturbing for me because we've had them signed
up for such a long, long time," he said.

Alaska Anchorage is in the same hockey conference as Minnesota.
The men's basketball team will appear in the men's Shootout this
year.

"We know that's not normally the way they conduct business,"
he said.

He said he was offended by Borton's contention that Alaska
Anchorage did not reply to inquiries as to the tournament's
certification.

"That's just simply not credible," he said. "The first
contact we had with them was them telling us they were not
coming."

Borton said Minnesota would honor its contract with Alaska
Anchorage at a future tournament.

Cobb said another invitation is not likely.

"I don't think we would have an interest at this point," he
said.