Armed with evidence that Clem Haskins paid a former tutor, the University of Minnesota might try to recoup its $1.5 million contract buyout of its ex-basketball coach.
A university lawyer said Tuesday that Haskins has acknowledged giving $3,000 to a woman who tutored basketball players after she was ordered to stay away from the team. The payment would violate Haskins' contract and NCAA rules.
Haskins repeatedly denied such a payment in his previous responses to NCAA and school investigators, as well as to university president Mark Yudof.
But in an "addition and correction process" to the NCAA's official notice of inquiry, Haskins acknowledged the payment to former tutor Jan Gangelhoff in spring 1998, university attorney Mark Rotenberg said.
Rotenberg called the admission proof that Haskins broke school and NCAA rules and violated his contract.
He said the university has not decided whether it would try to reclaim the $1.5 million buyout to Haskins, but said lawyers are looking into it.
Rotenberg said the university might consider a claim of "fraudulent inducement" if school officials could show they didn't have information on the payment when they bought out Haskins' contract in June 1999, three months after the scandal broke.
Ron Zamansky, Haskins' attorney, would not comment specifically on the latest revelation or on Rotenberg's suggestion that the university could try to reclaim Haskins' financial settlement.
"There is no change in Coach Haskins' belief that the conclusion of the independent investigators is wrong," Zamansky said.
Haskins did not return a call to his Kentucky ranch.
Rotenberg also said it was his understanding that Haskins maintains that he did not know Gangelhoff was doing coursework for players. "So this admission doesn't necessarily mean that Coach Haskins is now acknowledging that he knew about the cheating," he said.
"But certainly, his admission he paid Jan Gangelhoff to assist student-athletes after he knew that the U. of M. had fired Jan Gangelhoff and would not allow her to work for our academic counseling program is evidence that coach Haskins misled the university, misled our independent investigators, the NCAA and, at a minimum, provided a benefit to student-athletes outside what was authorized by the U. of M. and that itself is an NCAA violation," Rotenberg said.
Yudof has defended the buyout of Haskins, whose contract was to run through 2002, saying the university needed to move on and that the school was obligated to give him the money because it had no proof of wrongdoing by Haskins at the time.
The scandal broke in March 1999 when Gangelhoff told the Saint Paul Pioneer Press she did more than 400 pieces of coursework for up to 20 players.
The university launched an investigation that took nine months and led to a 1,000-page report now in the hands of the NCAA. The school's reprt concluded in November that Haskins knew of the fraud, lied to investigators and told his players to lie after the wrongdoing was exposed.
A federal grand jury also is looking into the scandal.
Haskins originally denied he paid Gangelhoff to work with players after she was disassociated from the program because of suspicions that she was doing players' coursework. But the university's investigation concluded that he was the only "reasonable source" of the payment.
Haskins' personal financial records, turned over to the NCAA, showed the payment was made, Rotenberg said.
University officials will appear at an NCAA infractions committee hearing later this month to argue that the basketball program shouldn't be penalized beyond the self-sanctions already imposed, including scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions and repayment of some tournament money.
The NCAA is expected to rule on the matter in October.
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