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The University of Minnesota men's basketball team ended their season with a
75-63 loss to Gonzaga University today in the first round of the NCAA
Tournament. The Gophers competed without four players who the university
declared ineligible pending an investigation into academic fraud allegations.
MINNESOTA PLAYED WITHOUT STARTERS and Kevin Clark and Miles Tarver and reserves Antoine Broxsie and Jason Stanford. They and more than a dozen former U of M basketball players allegedly turned in research papers and homework assignments written by Jan Gangelhoff, a former university staff member. Gangelhoff's allegations appeared in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press Wednesday and have caused a stir on campus since then. The university's Vice-President for Student Development and Athletics, McKinley Boston, says the decision to revoke the eligibility of the four players was very hard.
Boston: This difficult decision was reached primarily because of the shortness of time between the story and the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, the unwillingness of the newspaper to provide the university with information on which it based its story, and our related inability to access in detail the truth of any of the allegations.U of M President Mark Yudof, who is an attorney, says the decision to declare the players ineligible for the tournament should not be interpreted as a determination that the players have done anything wrong..
Yudof: It is often - sometimes - true in the law that if the allegations are serious enough and there is some evidence indicating that something improper happened, that's sufficient to act to protect the institution. That's all we're saying. We haven't assessed what they have done or not done. All we're saying is that the allegations are serious and there seems to be some preliminary evidence that corroborates that; although that evidence is also denied by other people. That's enough to go forward.With Minnesota's basketball season now over, going forward means arranging for a more comprehensive investigation, something Yudof says is forthcoming..
Yudof: The primary thing, of course, is to do the right thing. These issues can easily be politicized, but by the right thing I mean being fair to all the parties, being fair to the university, enforcing NCAA rules, enforcing our own rules. And we will order an external investigation that will be fair, that will be impartial, that will be thorough, that will be consistent with NCAA standards, and will also be prompt and swift.Men's Athletic Director Mark Dienhart says he's troubled that Jan Gangelhoff apparently lied when she told U of M officials in an earlier investigation that she was unaware of any rules violations and that she had not written assignments for student athletes.
Dienhart: We ultimately rely on people telling the truth. There is no way we can watch all of our employees 24 hours a day and we ultimately have to hope that we've instructed them properly on what to do, what NCAA rules require, and I have confidence that our compliance department does that and does that well. So I'm not frustrated, I'm just deeply, deeply saddened by the circumstances and disappointed.Tomorrow Yudof will be at the State Capitol to testify before a Senate committee. But Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe says he does not think the allegations regarding the basketball players will hurt the university's pending budget request.
Moe: We were going to look very critically at the budget, as we always have. They're not going to get everything they ask for. But I don't think this should be related to any decisions we make on the University. It's not related.Yudof says the university will likely announce early next week who will conduct the investigation into the academic-fraud allegations regarding the men's basketball team.