Barbara Hedges' statement

Washington Athletic Director Barbara Hedges and Faculty Athletics Representative Robert Aronson address the media Thursday morning to address the firing of Husky football coach Rick Neuheisel. Here is Hedges' statement to the media, in its entirety.

"It is with deep regret that I'm announcing today that I've made an initial determination that just cause exists to terminate Rick Neuheisel's employment as head football coach at the University of Washington.

Accordingly, effective immediately, I'm placing Coach Neuheisel on paid suspension from his duties. I've not arrived at this decision hastily or without due consideration. Nevertheless, Rick's actions have left me little choice and have seriously undermined his ability to continue as the head football coach at the University of Washington.

As provided in the contract, he may respond to this notice in writing or in person. Such response must be provided to my office by June 26th, 2003. I will consider any response that he may make and will issue my decision. As provided in his contract, he will have the right to appeal my decision to the Special Assistant to the President.

The basis for my initial determination is that he has admitted participation in high-stakes betting pools on the NCAA basketball tournament, and that he initially denied such participation except as an observer. I am aware that he has contended publically that his participation in the pools was not a violation of NCAA rules, or at least that he did not believe there to be such a violation, and he believes that his position is supported by an internal summary of those rules that was issued by the ICA Assistant Director for Compliance around the time of this year's tournament.

I am also aware that the NCAA has taken the position that such gambling is categorically prohibited by its rules. And that he, as coach, is responsible for knowing, and abiding by those rules, regardless of the advice that he may have received from others.

Whether or not the participation in the pools is ultimately determined by the NCAA to be a violation of the letter of its rules, Rick's admitted gambling on college athletics shows poor judgement, particularly in the context of his history of violations of NCAA rules both at this institution and at the University of Colorado, which had led to the imposition of penalties on him and on both institutions.

Rick's initial false denials of such participation, likewise, must be seen in the context of his untruthfulness earlier this year in regard to interviews with the San Francisco 49'ers, at which time he was clearly told that further acts of dishonesty would not be tolerated, by the University of Washington.

Accordingly, I believe Rick's conduct, taken as a whole, is grounds for terminating him for cause under Section 8 of his employment contract.

For those of you asking questions regarding who will be the next football coach at the University, that is the next item on my agenda. I intend, over the next day and a half, to sit down with all of the assistant coaches and discuss with them our football program and at that point, in the next few days, a decision will be made about that position." Top Stories