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U of M Report on Academic Fraud Due
By William Wilcoxen
November 17, 1999
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The University of Minnesota is expected to impose additional sanctions against its men's basketball team this week following a seven-month academic fraud investigation. The new punishment will come on top of the probation and ban on postseason play university President Mark Yudof announced last month. It won't necessarily be the last round of sanctions against the U of M. The U's findings go to the NCAA, which will decide if more penalties are warranted.

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PRESIDENT YUDOF has acknowledged "numerous, perhaps massive" rule violations in the men's basketball program. The consensus among analysts is that Minnesota hopes its investigation and self-imposed penalties will be just severe enough to assure the NCAA that the cheating has been adequately addressed. Gary Roberts, who directs the sports law program at Tulane University in New Orleans, says that's usually the goal of universities that self-report rule violations.
Roberts: Typically the hope is that the NCAA will be satisfied with the quality of the fact-finding and the university will generally impose sanctions on itself that it hopes are just stiff enough to satisfy the NCAA so that it doesn't feel the need to step in itself.
In addition to its probation and postseason ban, the university could reduce the number of scholarships the basketball program can offer. Also, money from the Gophers' 1997 Final Four appearance could be returned if investigators decide players on that team cheated and should have been ineligible. And further personnel changes, if any, could be announced in tandem with the institutional punishment.

Roberts says Minnesota took a big step toward mollifying the NCAA when it hired the law firm Bond, Shoeneck & King to lead the investigation. Former NCAA investigator Michael Glazier leads a group of attorneys in the Bond firm who specialize in working for universities that have violated NCAA rules. Bond, Shoeneck & King has handled dozens of such cases. Roberts says the firm's experience and reputation make it the customary choice for universities seeking damage control.
Roberts: The reason that they are kind of a monopolist in this area is that they are the acknowledged firm with both the contacts and the credibility with the NCAA. And I think that having them conduct the investigation is a major plus.
Indiana University American studies professor Murray Sperber, who has written two books on the business of college sports, says the NCAA's member institutions understand the NCAA is comfortable working with Glazier and his associates. Sperber says Bond, Shoeneck and King uses a conciliatory approach that can speed the healing process at schools that have broken the rules.
Sperber: I'm sure President Yudof of Minnesota wants this whole thing to go away as quickly as possible. And the NCAA comes to him and suggests he hire Glazier or a similar firm and this will make it go away as quickly as possible. So you can see why the temptation is overwhelming not to fight them, even though you might have justice and the law on your side. Schools give in to that. The path of least resistance is often the most tempting one.
Former NCAA infractions committee chair David Swank of Oklahoma University says the relationship between member institutions and the enforcement staff was once marked by confrontation. But these days cooperation is customary and it's standard for schools to report their own transgressions to the association. One staff member says the cooperation is needed because the fifteen investigators on the NCAA's enforcement staff could never police hundreds of schools themselves.

The enforcement staff will receive the report on Minnesota's academic-fraud investigation and will have the option of re-opening the inquiry. It will then submit a case summary to the NCAA's committee on infractions, which will consider the appropriate penalties. The infractions committee could ask the university, its investigators, and the enforcement staff to appear at a hearing which would likely be held next spring.