Hedges, Romar, respond to allegations

Washington Athletic Director Barbara Hedges and Men's Head Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar addressed publically today the issues surrounding allegations that Romar and assistant coach Cameron Dollar were involved in illegal contact of recruits. Four instances have been cited by reports on ESPN.com and the Seattle Times.

"Obviously we are very concerned about it," Hedges said from the Don James Center earlier today about the allegations. "First I will tell you that when I hired Lorenzo Romar, I couldn't find a person that would say an unpleasant word about him. They would say that he's honest, a person of high integrity, absolutely a straight arrow and a straight shooter and that certainly has not changed. That is who Lorenzo Romar is."

"Throughtout your coaching career you get criticized for using a time out at the wrong time or something like that and that's just something you have to live with," Romar said when addressing the press this afternoon. "When my integrity is questioned, that's something that really bothers me. I've never had anything like this happen to me. Check the record. All I can say is that I'm anxious to tell our side of the story. It won't be right now. We'll allow the process to take care of everything at this point. Everything has been looked into, and when the results of our report are revealed, I'll comment further."

Hedges went on to say that the first she heard about the potential violations was when she talked to Romar on Sunday. "I was out of town this weekend and when I got home I had a call from Lorenzo and I called him back right away. That was on Sunday. We have not heard from the Pac-10 or the NCAA. We have not been notified about anything. What I've read in the paper is virtually what I know and typically we work with the Pac-10. We don't work with the NCAA. If we need to self-report we go to the Pac-10 office."

At the heart of the allegations are four noted instances of apparent illegal contact. Josh Heytvelt, a 6-10 center prospect from Clarkston told ESPN.com that Washington assistant Cameron Dollar was in Clarkston last week when he was working out, but Heytvelt declined to say whether Dollar watched him work out. Heytfelt said he would have no further comment. David Pendergraft, a Gonzaga commit even though he's not even a junior in high school, was alledgedly the subject of a phone call by Cameron Dollar. Coaches aren't allowed to contact Pendergraft until next March at the earliest.

The other two allegations revolve around practice sessions during a quiet period when coaches weren't allowed to evaluate talent, and a supposed conversation with the mother of 6-8 junior forward Marvin Williams of Bremerton, a conversation which was not permissible at the time due to NCAA rules.

There is no Pac-10 or NCAA rule forbiding a school from addressing the allegations, but both Hedges and Romar refused to comment on the specific issues until their investigation is completed and everything is handed over to the Pac-10. "I sat down with Lorenzo this morning and with Dana Richardson, our assistant director for compliance," she said. "We will follow up and follow through with the Pac-10. If there are any violations we will self-report those to the Pac-10. And we will do it very quickly." Typically, secondary violations are not public issues. They are usually dealt with from within the department. Washington will investigate on their own in conjunction with the Pac-10 and if there are any violations will self-report. "Washington will do the appropriate thing and we will take the appropriate step," Hedges said.

A number of schools have expressed their displeasure over these apparent events, including Washington State, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Arizona State and North Carolina. They all claim Romar had gained a recruiting advantage because of these supposed instances of contact. Sources told ESPN.com that Washington State's Paul Graham, Arizona State's Rob Evans and Eastern Washington's Ray Giacoletti had all expressed their dismay with Romar.

For her part, Hedges was particularly dismayed by the apparent lack of protocol used by the schools making the claims against Romar and Dollar. "The protocol to me is extremely important," she said. "If a coach or an athletic director from another institution has reason to believe that a member of another institution's coaching staff or staff member is in any way violating NCAA rules...typically what I would do and what the Pac-10 coaches have been asked to do, is to first call the other coach, and say 'Look Coach, this is what I think is going on.', and then the AD calls the AD. Then we are obligated, as an institution, to follow up. Then, if we have violated an NCAA rule, we are obligated to self-report it. That's exactly what we would have done. It's really important to understand this; to pick up a paper or see it on espn.com without having any institution notify me or the University of Washington is pretty shocking."

Romar couldn't answer questions as to why the protocol wasn't followed. "Maybe that's what the process will help determine," he said. "I can't give you an answer to that. I just don't know. People handle it differently. I can tell you how I've handled it in the past. I call them up and say this is what's going on out there and would talk to the person involved and hopefully it would be dealt with...done deal, see you later. That's how I've handled it, but everybody's different."

Hedges reiterated that the Washington Athletic Department has not received any notice from either the Pac-10 or NCAA. "We need to have an opportunity to understand what's going on," she said. "No allegations have been made against the University of Washington except in the press. Regardless of that, when we are notified as to the possibility of any impropriety, we would look into it and that's what we are going to do. These allegations are very public and we're obligated to do that and we will. We'll forward everything we know to the Pac-10."

Romar was pretty soft-spoken and deliberate for the most part when answering questions. "I'm more disappointed than frustrated," he said when asked about his mood in light of what's happened in the past 24 hours. "The process will take care of this whole thing."

When asked about his rapport with the coaches in question, "I would say that if you asked those gentlemen what our working relationship was like, they would say it's really good," Romar said. "At least I feel that way."

Two NCAA investigators will be in Eastern Washington today and tomorrow to discuss the allegations made against Washington.

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