Dr. Lee Todd's statement

UK president outlines concerns about program, direction he's taking

LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Highlights of comments made by University of Kentucky President Lee Todd during Thursday's press conference at Wildcat Den:

OPENING STATEMENT:

"I don't mind saying at this point that I'd rather not be here. Frankly, it's a situation I'm not happy with. I'm glad that this part of it is behind us, but the fact that we're here talking about NCAA violations and the resulting sanctions against our institution is something I consider to be a sad thing to be talking about. But this is where we are, and we're going to move forward from this point."


University of Kentucky President Dr. Lee Todd (left) watches along with UK football coach Guy Morriss as Athletics Director Larry Ivy addresses the media. (AP - Ed Reinke)

"I do appreciate the openness and professionalism and the cooperation exhibited by our athletics department, and especially our compliance office. I think that came through loud and clear with (Committee on Infractions chairman Tom) Yeager's comments.... They went on to say, and I quote, that they recognize that the university's compliance office has 'a well-documented record of integrity, thoroughness and competence.' And that's important to me."

"They also stated it was clear to the committee that once we were made aware of the violations, the university acted swiftly and decisively to punish those responsible, and conducted a thorough and complete self-investigation... I think you'll find that the committee didn't find any additional violations of significance that we didn't report ourselves."

"However, as we look at the report, clearly the biggest issue is the committee's finding of the lack of institutional control... The interesting thing about that particular ruling is that it didn't lead to any additional penalties, as some of you may have proposed; I've heard on the radio quite a bit."

"This finding is not how we want our program to be recognized. I'm disturbed particularly by the committee's findings... that the recruiting coordinator (Claude Bassett) was able to openly violate basic, fundamental recruiting legislation for an extended period of time, approximately two years, without detection. They also stated the widespread nature of these undetected violations in time and frequency, and the number of individuals who had some knowledge of improper activities, and yet failed to report them to the proper authorities. I will have to tell you, and I've said this before when I spent 9 1/2 hours with the committee in Indianapolis, that when I read our submitted report initially --- when I took office (at UK) --- I was struck by the number of people who had taken money someplace, who had done things at hotels, who had just been involved with some sleazy operations. And I was shocked that nobody spoke up. There was a level of intimidation that I think was present.... That's why we put this (compliance) hotline in place... We want to hear from anyone who thinks something is wrong with this program, because we're going to clear it up."

"You also heard about the five-year period where we've got to be on our toes (in terms of being eligible for the 'death penalty'). That period of time coincides pretty close to my term of office here, and you can rest assured that these violations will not occur, and if they do occur, we will take them extremely seriously."

"The committee commended our recommendations for self-imposed sanctions, but still felt it necessary to add a few more. We accept responsibility for our violations and are willing to accept our punishment. (But) If I question anything, it is the loss of bowl eligibility. We need to evaluate whether we believe this is fair and appropriate because the greatest punishment is carried out on our student-athletes and coaches who have taken over a program that was in trouble. As a result, I'm going to consider an appeal of this one particular piece. And I want to make it absolutely clear that we are not appealing this (complete) decision that we got handed by the NCAA, with the exception of this one narrow piece. We will not, if we appeal, carry a group of people to Indianapolis and sit down with anybody. We'll do it on paper. We'll try to put down factual information if we've got a case. I want to talk to (Southeastern Conference) Commissioner (Roy) Kramer, I want to talk to our coaches.  My only reason for thinking about this is I look at these coaches and I look at these players and what they achieved. They overachieved this year. This coaching staff had the ability to get these kids to almost win four games we didn't think we could win...  I don't want anybody to think that we're backing down or not willing to accept our punishment, and I'm not ready to say yes or no on that yet, but it is something that's on the table."

"Where do we go from here? As I mentioned being unhappy about being here and having to deal with this --- I'd much rather be putting my energy into enjoying sporting events and being a fan, looking at our faculty and students, and strengthening our academic programs and research programs --- we are here... The question was going to come up, and I'm ultimately responsible. I want to be very clear that we're moving forward as one institution dedicated to the betterment of the commonwealth in all facets of the university, including athletics, working toward a common goal. My efforts since I got here is to make this one university. We have two silos in the medical center, the main campus --- and in many cases, I think --- people view the athletics department as something that's across Euclid Avenue and operates somewhat independently. I've only been president for about seven months, and I know I have a lot to learn, but I don't want to be back here in front of you explaining again why we are facing violations.... This report points out that we've been through an NCAA investigation every decade since 1950. The 50s, and 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s.... And we're not going to do it in the 2000s."

"I'm troubled by this ruling of lack of institutional control, and I'm not comfortable with the direction and the isolation of the athletics program. Given the institution's history of athletics violations and given the report citation of this being an unusually serious case of widespread in scope and duration, I'm saddened that we must go beyond this report and the football program to look at the entire athletics department. It's time to stop the questions, the rumors, the accusations... To do that, we must delve into every operational practice and procedure of the department and explore the facts. I firmly believe you can't fix a problem unless you identify the root causes. I'll be announcing in the next few days a team that will be charged with a full review of the operations and practices of the UK athletics department. I'm already in the process of assembling that team, and have asked UK Law School Dean Bob Lawson to lead this effort. My plan is for the team to consist of no more than three or four representatives of the university. They will report directly to me. My hope is that this process will be conducted in a very narrow time window. I'm talking a matter of weeks, not months. I'll be expecting very specific recommendations on very specific concerns and issues. My charge to them will be that everything's on the table for review. It's time


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