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The University of Minnesota has named two law firms to investigate allegations
of academic fraud involving the men's basketball team.
THE U OF M RETAINED A KANSAS CITY AREA LAW FIRM that has a national reputation for its work in assessing whether universities have violated NCAA rules. That firm will work with a Minneapolis law firm experienced in representing public and government agencies in the Twin Cities. University administrators are budgeting $500,000 for a six-month investigation, but say the cost and duration could grow.
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Brown: Maybe be a little bit attuned to local sensitivities. They certainly have familiarity through working relationships with other attorneys who have already been retained by players; by Ms. Gangelhoff in this case. To the extent that they have those working relationships, I think it's always good to have that local contact.Donald Lewis says it's impossible to say how the investigation will proceed.
Lewis: I think every investigation is unique. And I don't think you can apply a cookie-cutter approach to this inquiry, especially one that is this sensitive and this complex.Lewis says that gaining the cooperation of those at the center of the issue - such as Jan Gangelhoff - is a priority. After the allegations were published, the university was unsuccessful in efforts to interview Gangelhoff or see the documentation she provided a local newspaper. Tonya Moten Brown says one reason the university hired investigators not affiliated with the U was to increase public confidence in the process and in their findings.
Brown: We hope that by having an outside counsel, it will encourage people to come up, to tell the investigators if they have relevant information that would bear on this. I certainly hope that Ms. Gangelhoff will have some confidence that the university is truly trying to get at the bottom of this and in order to do so we need the cooperation of those who have relevant knowledge that bears on these issues.Gangelhoff's attorney, Jim Lord, says he plans to learn more about the investigating firms. Lord says if he finds nothing suspect about them, Gangelhoff will be anxious to tell them what she knows.
Lewis: Our job is to find facts, to investigate facts, and then to interpret whether those facts violate any rules or regulations or policies.When the investigation is complete, Brown will submit the final report to Yudof and to the university's Board of Regents for a decision on what action to take. Options would include a report to the NCAA on any rule violations. Brown says the NCAA will be kept apprised during the course of the investigation.
Brown: The greater confidence the NCAA has in the thoroughness of our investigation, it reduces the possibility that they will feel the need to kind of re-do the investigation on their own, which would, of course, extend the time frame significantly.Brown says the investigation is needed to look at allegations that strike at the core of the university's academic integrity. She says the question of whether NCAA violations occurred is part of that larger issue.