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Archive for Sunday, August 13, 2006

NCAA hearing serious business

Infractions committee to hear KU’s case today

August 13, 2006

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— If anybody should know what Kansas University is diving into today with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, it's the university's legal counsel, Overland Park-based attorney Rick Evrard.

A former NCAA enforcement official and now, for the last 14 years, a private lawyer who represents universities from coast to coast, Evrard estimates he's sat in about 30 hearings similar to the one KU will be in today at the Tremont Plaza Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

Kansas will give its side of the story on 11 violations unearthed in the athletic department - many from an internal investigation - in hopes that self-imposed penalties handed out last year will stand.

Evrard has spent years examining situations similar to KU's, and no two cases ever have been identical. That's why he admits it's difficult to gauge what today's hearing has in store - and what additional punishments KU possibly could face.

"As best we can, we try to guide institutions into imposing their own penalties, because that really is the right way to do things," Evrard said. "The University of Kansas has clearly recognized that. From the moment I've been involved, this institution has clearly taken, in my judgment, the right steps to address the issues and has punished itself and taken action against the individuals that compromised the integrity of the institution. I think they're pretty close."




Timeline

¢ July, 2005: KU self-reports minor violations in basketball, more serious violations in football. ¢ April 2006: NCAA alleges KU demonstrated a lack of institutional control within its athletic department from 1997 to 2003. ¢ Sunday: Kansas responds to allegations in front of NCAA Committee on Infractions in Baltimore. ¢ Approx. early October: NCAA rules if KU's self-imposed sanctions are sufficient.

Ultimately, though, it matters little what Evrard thinks. What athletic director Lew Perkins or football coach Mark Mangino or anyone else at Kansas thinks doesn't have an impact on the final verdict, either.

It's what the eight-member NCAA Committee on Infractions thinks, after hours of statements, questions, answers and pleas are made inside the closed doors at the Tremont Plaza.

Evrard, in an interview with the Journal-World this week, tried his best to paint the picture of what goes on behind those doors. But he admitted it's hard to put a finger on it - what questions will be asked, what time frame is expected, whether additional penalties will be passed out - because everything is so different every time the Infractions Committee meets with a school in hot water.

"It's always," Evrard said, "unpredictable."

The setup

What Evrard knows is this: Around a dozen officials for Kansas University - including Perkins, Mangino, chancellor Robert Hemenway, basketball coaches Bill Self and Bonnie Henrickson, compliance director Theresa Becker and others - flew into Maryland on Saturday night, ready for a bright-and-early 8:30 a.m. meeting in a Tremont Plaza meeting room.

The middle of the room is empty. Across the front of the room is the eight-member Committee on Infractions. The administrative staff for the committee is on one side of them. Two members of the appeals committee - who will observe the hearing but not participate - will sit on the other side, taking notes in case KU appeals whatever decision ultimately is made.

On the left side of the room will be a a long table with KU's officials seated side-by-side down the row. The right side of the room will be NCAA officials observing the hearing. The seating has been assigned ahead of time.

The middle of the room is vacant, except for a court reporter who will document everything that's said throughout the day.

"It's a full room," Evrard said. "A large room."

Adjacent to the KU party in the back of the room will be John Papuchis, a former football graduate assistant at Kansas who possibly is involved in perhaps the most serious allegation of the bunch. An unnamed GA is accused of academic fraud for helping prospective junior-college transfers gain eligibility for the 2003 season. Papuchis will be accompanied by legal counsel and a representative from his school.

In all, close to three dozen people will be in the room, with a lot at stake concerning Kansas University athletics.

The procedure

Evrard said that smiles and laughs would be left outside for hours and hours. There's too much on the line.

"The atmosphere is serious," Evrard said. "These individuals that serve as committee members are unpaid. They're there because they believe in the system, they believe in the process, they believe in the NCAA.

"They take it very seriously. They recognize that the integrity of the institution they're dealing with is at stake. : It is not a jovial atmosphere at all."

The day will start with the committee chairman introducing everybody at the front of the room, followed with Hemenway introducing everyone in KU's party. Opening statements follow - one made by a committee representative, and one made by a Kansas representative.

The hearing then will get to the meat of the issues - the 11 violations will be dissected individually, with discussions and questions posed to the room.

This part of the day, Evrard said, is unique in every case.

"It's very unpredictable which committee member will focus on a particular issue," Evrard said. "Each one of those committee members come from a different background, so they all have kind of a different focus."

It's possible that Kansas officials can expect a grilling or two during the course of the hearing, as well.

"They're not shy about expressing their points of view," Evrard said. "They take shots at the staff as well as the institution. If they're offended by a procedural issue that the staff is taking, they'll let you know"

The aftermath

How many hours the hearing lasts is anybody's guess. The 1988 hearing involving KU men's basketball violations lasted around four hours. Today, the NCAA has reserved the whole day for Kansas.

"We may go four hours and be finished," Evrard said, "or we could be nine or 10 hours."

The room will then empty, and the control will leave KU's grasp completely the moment the hearing is adjourned. For the next several weeks, the committee will determine in private what should be done about the violations. In some cases, the self-imposed penalties a school implemented will be considered a just consequence. In others, the NCAA will hammer the school with even more punishment.

The committee is instructed in NCAA bylaws not to comment publicly on the case before the release of the infractions report. Kansas officials are expected to stay close to the vest, as well.

Those officials are confident that the self-imposed penalties will stand. But really, there's no telling what's in store for Kansas athletics between today's hearing and the NCAA's final decision.

"It's a very inexact science," Evrard said. "You try to do the best you can, but the fact of the matter is, this business is a human business. It deals with human frailties, human emotions and faults and consequences from those faults.

"Those are the intangibles. Sometimes its very difficult to measure how serious one person considers that versus another person."


































The 11 alleged infractions

A rundown of the 11 allegations that will be the main topic of today's NCAA hearing:

1. Academic fraud Sport: Football NCAA bylaws: 10.1 and 10.1-(b) The gist: One of KU's graduate football assistants "arranged academic fraud" for a junior-college transfer looking to gain eligibility for the 2003 season. The unnamed athlete was taking a Brigham Young University correspondence course, and the Kansas G.A. arranged for the athlete to take the test without a permissible proctor.

2. Academic fraud Sport: Football NCAA bylaws: 10.1 and 10.1-(b) The gist: A KU graduate football assistant "arranged academic fraud" for two juco transfers looking to gain eligibility in 2003 by helping with answers to a Geology 101 test while the athletes took the test in the GA's dorm room.

3. Impermissible assistance Sport: Football NCAA bylaws: 13.2.1 and 13.2.7 The gist: KU football staff members, as well as student-athlete support services staff members, are alleged to have helped seven incoming football players gain eligibility in 2003. This was done through use of facilities, setting up proctors, transportation assistance and training table meals. Since the athletes were not yet eligibile to play at KU and weren't enrolled at KU, they weren't supposed to receive any such help from the university.

4. Impermissisble gifts Sport: Football NCAA bylaws: 13.2.1, 13.2.2-(b) and 16.11.2.1 The gist: Former KU football assistant Tyrone Dixon provided three articles of clothing to KU recruit Monroe Weekley during a recruiting visit. Later, Dixon gave Weekley 16 collared shirts so that Weekley, by this point a member of the team, could be in compliance with the football team's dress code.

5. Impermissible off-campus contact Sport: Football NCAA bylaw: 11.7.2.2 and 13.1.2.3 The gist: Between November 2003 and December 2004, graduate football assistants transported prospective players from KU's campus to the prospect's home "subsequent to their official paid visits." Two examples were cited.

6. Improper benefits Sport: Men's basketball NCAA bylaw: 13.2.1, 13.2.2-(b), 13.2.2-(d), 13.2.2-(h), 13.6.4, 13.7.2.4, 16.11.2.1, 16.11.2.3-(a) and 16.11.2.3-(c) The gist: KU booster Don Davis provided transportation, money and other benefits to current KU player Darnell Jackson and members of his family between 2003 and 2005. The total sum of the benefits totaled about $5,000. Jackson already has served a nine-game suspension.

7. Improper benefits Sport: Men's basketball NCAA bylaws: 16.11.2.1 and 16.11.2.3-(c) The gist: KU booster Don Davis provided transportation and meals to former KU player J.R Giddens between 2003 and 2005. Among other things, Davis is accused of driving Giddens to Wichita to see a doctor about a leg injury in the summer of '05. Giddens was stabbed in the calf during the infamous Moon Bar fight in May 2005.

8. Improper benefits Sport: Men's basketball NCAA bylaw: 16.11.2.1 The gist: At least three KU boosters - Dana Anderson, Joan Edwards and Bernard Morgan - were said to have provided men's basketball players graduation gifts between 1988 and 2004 ranging from $25 to $400 in cash, as well as lifetime alumni association memberships and men's suits. All gifts were given to players who had exhausted their eligibilities.

9. Impermissible transportation Sport: Women's basketball NCAA bylaw: 13.2.1 The gist: Former women's assistant coach Tim Eatman provided improper transportation for a player from Naismith Hall so the player could take a standardized test.

10. Secondary violations Sport: Baseball, football, soccer, men's basketball, women's basketball, track and field, rowing, tennis, men's golf. NCAA bylaws: 13.1.2.1, 13.2.1, 13.6.2.2, 13.7.2, 13.7.5.1, 13.7.5.1.1, 13.7.5.5, 13.7.6, 13.8.2.1.1, 13.9.1, 16.02.2, 16.5.2, 17.12.8.1.2.1 The gist: A lumping of 26 minor violations commited across the department, such as the athletic department mistakenly paying for an in-room movie for a recruit during her paid visit.

11. Lack of institutional control Sport: Athletic department NCAA constitution: 2.1.1, 2.8.1 and 6.01.1 The gist: The NCAA alleges KU failed to maintain institutional control between 1997 and 2003, and cited compliance shortcomings, a failure to report violations in a timely manner, failing to provide rules education and failing to monitor activities of recruits who lived on campus.

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