NCAA nails UW hoops to backboard

Thomas Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association and chairman of the NCAA infractions committe, notified the University of Washington Thursday that the NCAA was handing down additional penalties as a result of their investigation surrounding the Huskies' mens basketball program.

Yeager, speaking via a telephone conference Thursday morning, spelled out those penalties. In addition to the Pac-10's punishment of putting the Washington basketball program on one year's probation, the NCAA doubled that penalty, as well as taking away one scholarship from the team for one year. The school can select which year to impose the second penalty, either during the 2003-2004 season or the 2004-2005 season.

The first penalty will be piggybacked onto the Pac-10's starting point of probation, February 10, 2003. So the UW's mens basketball program will be off of probation on February 10, 2005. All told, the punishments levied by the school, Pac-10 and NCAA are in response to investigations that uncovered 13 major violations and 3 secondary ones. The basketball program did not suffer any post-season penalties as a result of said violations.

Approximately one year ago a rival basketball coach contacted the NCAA about some possible impermissible contact by the UW men's basketball staff. The complaint included information about impermissible contact, such as:
conversations with parents and prospects at practice and competition sites;
contact with club coaches at competition sites;
the arrangement to sit next to a PSA (prospective student-athlete) during an airplane flight;
contact with a PSA and his parents at a restaurant;
improper phone conversations;
impermissible evaluations;
attendance at non-certified athletic events, and;
unethical conduct by an assistant coach who knowingly violated NCAA recruiting rules.

The coach mainly responsible for this conduct was later acknowledged to be Cameron Dollar, who came with Head Coach Lorenzo Romar from Saint Louis University to the University of Washington in the summer of 2002. The PSA involved, while not revealed by name in the investigation, turned out to be Clarkston, Washington's Josh Heytvelt, who lated verbally committed to play basketball for Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Yeager said that this case was processed by 'summary disposition', which means it was a joint investigation done by the NCAA enforcement committee and the school, where Washington acknowledged the facts of the case and understood them to be of a serious nature, thus allowing the NCAA to hand down their sentence without the need of a hearing.

Summary disposition also allowed UW to self-impose their own penalties, which they did. Dollar was not allowed to recruit off campus from September 2002 through June of 2003 and they also terminated the recruitment of Heytvelt. The NCAA also acknowledged that there was another PSA involved, and Washington curtailed their recruitment of him significantly.

The PSA's name has never been released.

Dollar was also suspended a month without pay and also was docked another month's pay through the remainder of his yearly salary. Letters of reprimand were sent to Dollar and Romar by the school, with a letter of caution sent to another assistant coach, among other smaller penalties.

The Pac-10, in February of 2003, accepted Washington's self-imposed penalty, but also put the program on probation for the period of one year. And they also publically reprimanded program and also required the school to report Dollar's compliance to the NCAA and had to explain why they decided to retain him, which they did.

Yeager acknowledged the 'significant corrective and disciplinary actions' taken by both the school and Pac-10, but justified the NCAA's additional penalties. "We have decided on additional penalties because the violations demonstrated an intentional disregard for NCAA bylaws and provided a significant recruiting advantage to the University," he said.

He further acknowledged that there's a distinct possibility that these violations, coupled with the current issues swirling around Washington's football program, could result in even more penalties. "Anytime there's a major case, there's a five-year window where the University is exposed to 'repeat violator' status. That if there's another major violation within the five-year window, that the potential consequences for that violation, whether it be in mens basketball or another sport, increase," Yeager said.

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