University of Minnesota officials said Tuesday that former Gopher's basketball coach Clem Haskins has admitted making a $3,000 payoff to a former tutor. Haskins told NCAA investigators that he gave the money to Jan Gangelhoff, the woman who admitted writing papers for several basketball players. Though Gangelhoff said Haskins paid her and a U of M investigation pointed to Haskins as the source of the payment, the coach had denied the charges when the school conducted its own investigation.
FOR OVER A YEAR, Haskins had repeatedly denied that he had given money to Gangelhoff. Although now Haskins has admitted that he gave money to the woman who helped several gopher basketball players commit academic fraud. University of Minnesota General Counsel, Mark Rotenberg, says Haskins maintains he didn't know anything about how the money was used.
"I'm informed by Coach Haskins attorney that it's the coach's position that he did not know that Jan Gangelhoff was providing improper services for the student athletes at issue, so the fact of this admission doesn't necessarily mean coach haskins is now acknowledging that he knew about the cheating," Rotenberg said.
The revelation that Haskins had changed his story regarding the payment came after the coach released his bank records to NCAA investigators in July. Rotenberg said the bank records confirmed Haskins paid Gangelhoff through the basketball program's academic counselor.
"Pursuant to NCAA rules, coach Haskins was permitted to correct and add to comments or statements he made to NCAA staff and in that addition and correction process, he acknowledged writing out a check for three thousand dollars which he then gave the cash from that check to Alonzo Newby who was supposed to give and did give it to Jan Gangelhoff," Rotenberg explained.
Tuesday's announcement has given additional ammunition to critics of the University's decision to buy out Haskins contract for $1.5 million. The buy-out was based on Haskins statements that he knew nothing of the fraud charges and that the University had no information to confirm or deny those charges. Rotenberg said that the University hasn't made plans to initiate a suit against the coach, but it would not rule out future legal action. He said the buy-out accomplished the goal of avoiding a protracted legal battle that would've delayed the rehabilitation of the program.
"The payment was made because at the time, the Regents and the President authorized that payment to be made. We did not have concrete evidence of violations of NCAA rules or our policies that would justify our breaking a written contract with coach Haskins," Rotenberg said.
Haskins admission also raises questions of the veracity of other statements made by the coach. Rotenberg, however, says despite Haskins false statements, the University's investigation was as accurate as possible.
"The U of M is an academic institution, we're not the FBI. We spent a lot of time and money trying to isolate the truth," he said. "We think we got this allegation essentially right the first time, but the misstatements by Mr. Haskins regarding this particular point obviously did not help our investigators."
Rotenberg would not speculate as to why Haskins chose to come forward with the information at this time. Haskins attorney Ron Zamansky would not comment on the investigation until it is completed. A federal fraud investigation was launched in April, meaning Haskins faces the potential of appearing before a grand jury, which has the subpoena power unavailable to either the NCAA or the University of Minnesota.
The NCAA will hold hearings in a few weeks. The University has already imposed several sanctions on itself including a ban on post-season play last season and scholarship restrictions. University officials have asked the NCAA to consider those penalties sufficient. The organization is expected to make a final decision within two months of the hearing.