Will memo save Neuheisel?

Rick Neuheisel addressed the notion that an inter-office memo just might be at the heart of his case to prove his innocence Sunday during a passing league set up by the University of Washington to bring in high school teams from around the area and Western Washington. Right now, he's battling for his career in the face of gambling allegations resulting from a neighborhood NCAA basketball betting pool Neuheisel participated in for the past two years.

"It was fun to put my stuff on," Neuheisel said. "You take things for granted, and just to go in the locker room and put my gear on - my hat and my sweatshirt - and to walk around and talk to high school kids on our campus particpating in football - that's why I do what I do. I soaked it up."

Unfortunately for Neuheisel, the focus isn't on Sunday's gathering but more on whether or not he'll be able to keep his job as the head football coach of the University of Washington. "First, I'm not a quitter," he said. "I'm going to keep fighting, as long as they allow me to. Second, I'm very confident I did not break any University of Washington rules, and I don't think that the University of Washington rules are contradictory to those of the NCAA."

The Seattle Times first broke the news of Neuheisel's involvement in the neighborhood pool, where he won over $20,000 as part of a four-man team. NCAA Bylaw 10.3 prohibits athletics department staff members from engaging in gambling activities as they relate to intercollegiate or professional sporting events.

The Times' story, co-written by Bob Condotta and Bud Withers, also had Neuheisel's full admission of his participation. But what apparently wasn't known at the time was the existence of an inter-office memo that had been passed through the Washington Athletic Department that, in part, gave Neuheisel the confidence that his involvement in the neighborhood pool was strictly by the book.

This memo was originally written by Assistant Athletic Director and compliance officer Dana Richardson, in an attempt to clarify any ambiguities or confusion there may have been over the NCAA's interpretation of betting pools.

News of the memo broke first on KING 5 TV.

The name of the memo was, 'gambling reminders' and it was specifically sent out before the NCAA basketball tournament. The part that relates to Neuheisel's situation is here.

"The bottom line of these rules is that if you have friends outside of ICA (Intercollegiate College Athletics) that have pools on any of the basketball tournaments, you can participate...

"...You cannot place bets with a bookie or organize your own pool inside or outside of ICA."

If Richardson's interpretation is accurate, Neuheisel could argue that since he didn't create the pool and was done outside the ICA, he did nothing wrong. But what is unknown at this time is whether or not the NCAA agrees with the contents of that memo.

"It has been difficult because it isn't just me," Neuheisel said about the last few days of waiting. "It's my family, my friends, it's everybody - wondering what the heck's going on. Which is the reason that I felt obligated to correct the story that was reported yesterday with regard to a memo - an interoffice memo that circulated through the Athletic Department. The story read that it had told everybody not to participate in any pools. But it then went on to say - and I should just get it for you - that if it's away from the University with friends and you're not the organizer - that you can participate. So I wanted to make sure everyone understood what that memo said."

But the coach is still very much in a dogfight for his job in Montlake. "I think what's important to do here is let the process run," he said. "Because I don't want to divide. I want to coach here. It's been my first, second and third goal. And it is important to me - and I know that you are just doing your jobs - that we let the invesigation - both at the University of Washington and the NCAA - take it's course. And I feel confident, regardless how you feel about me - as a coach, or intelligence or lack therof - that it will be clearly understandable that I didn't break any University of Washington rule and certainly I felt - and still feel - that they are in accord with the NCAA rules.

"What I want to do is get back to talking about football and go back to thinking about Ohio State and playing the National Champs in Columbus. August 30th, 8 O'Clock at night, national TV - that's where our focus needs to get back to and that's my hope. I've got my fingers crossed."

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