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Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2003

Neuheisel makes proposal

Coach wants to keep job, says he would resign if violations found

June 15, 2003

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— Rick Neuheisel maintains he did not break NCAA rules when he gambled on college basketball tournaments and believes he should keep his job as Washington's football coach.

Neuheisel addressed reporters Saturday at his lakeside home, two days after athletic director Barbara Hedges announced her decision to fire him.

"I remain confident that there will be no finding of any major infraction at the NCAA level," Neuheisel said. "And if the university could see their way to allow me to retain my job, I would guarantee them that if in fact there were a finding of a major infraction, I would resign immediately and ask not for one more penny from the university.

"I'd go further and promise that I would reimburse the attorney general's office and pay for all their costs associated with defending the university at the NCAA level."

The state attorney general's office serves as legal counsel to the university and all other state agencies.

Neuheisel admits he gambled on the last two NCAA basketball tournaments, but said he didn't realize he was breaking NCAA rules by participating in the pool with friends and neighbors.

He invested a combined $6,400 and reportedly won about $12,000, giving some of the money to charity. In his defense, he cited a department memo that said off-campus pools were acceptable.

Jim Daves, a UW athletic department spokesman, had no comment Saturday afternoon in response to Neuheisel's latest statement.

Hedges announced Thursday that she was firing Neuheisel for gambling on the tournaments and initially being dishonest with NCAA investigators about his involvement.

His lawyers have disputed both allegations and have characterized NCAA gambling rules as ambiguous.

His legal team includes Jerry Crawford, a specialist at handling cases before the NCAA infractions committee, and Bob Sulkin, described as Neuheisel's lead trial attorney.

Crawford said at a news conference Friday that remarks by faculty representative Robert Aronson in university e-mails bolstered their case. Aronson said Thursday the rule "is not the epitome of clarity."

"Despite obvious confusion in the way the NCAA rule is drafted, the university seeks to terminate coach Neuheisel for violating a rule that their best lawyers and law professors don't understand themselves," Crawford said.

Neuheisel has until June 26 to respond to his termination notice.

"I love this job," Neuheisel said Saturday. "I love the kids that I've recruited and brought to the university. And I promised them that I'd do everything I could to retain this job and that's my sole goal and my sole purpose."

No announcement has been made on Neuheisel's replacement, though offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson is considered the leading candidate.

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