Cameron Dollar - "I blew it"

Washington Athletic Director Barbara Hedges, Men's Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar, Assistant Coach Cameron Dollar and Rob Aronson, the current Washington Faculty Athletics Representative all addressed the press this afternoon to talk about the Huskies' self-report of violations in the hoops program. Dollar's improper contact with two prospects was at the heart of the findings, and both he and Romar expressed considerable regret in their statements.

"I blew it," Dollar said today at a press conference at the Don James Center. "I would like to apologize to the University and all of it's supporters and fans for my actions. My actions were inexcusable. I've shown this University in a bad light and for that I'm deeply sorry." Dollar also aplogized to Hedges, Romar, University President Richard McCormick and the prospects and their parents for any embarassment he may have caused. Romar echoed Dollar's apologies.

The University has banned Dollar from all recruiting activities during the September 9 to October 6 recruiting period. In addition, Coach Dollar will be withheld from all off-campus recruiting activities for the remainder of the academic year, which ends July 1, 2003. Dollar will be suspended without pay for one month effective immediately (October 1 until November 1), and will have his pay reduced through the remainder of his contract period, which ends April of 2003.

The University of Washington will engage in no off-campus recruitment of the main prospect in question. In addition, the basketball staff will be precluded from initiating any telephone calls or e-mail messages to said prospect or his family. Permissible contacts to another recruit will be reduced by two and they will not be able to call that recruit for three weeks during the permissible period.

Further penalties include: staying away from one premier AAU tournament during the summer of 2003 and complete staff attendance to the 2003 Regional Compliace Seminar. Romar and Dollar will both be issued letters of reprimand and will attend monthly compliance meetings with the Faculty Athletics representative and/or the Assistant Athletic Director of Compliance.

The report, and it's findings, concludes over a month of in-house investigating by Washington, which found substantial infractions regarding Dollar's contact with one prospect. The report does not name him, but refers to his hometown as Clarkston, Washington. It is believed this prospect is Josh Heytvelt, who is from Clarkston. Additional contact was noted in the report with a player from Bremerton, Washington who we believe is junior prospect Marvin Williams.

Four prospects were mentioned in the findings, but only Clarkston and Bremerton were noted in the state of Washington. Contact at AAU tournaments in Oakland, California and Las Vegas, Nevada were documented.

The infractions themselves are secondary infractions, but the number of them warranted sharp action. The severity of the penalites is also derived, in part, from Dollar's evasiveness in the beginning of the interviewing process. During subsequent interviews conducted jointly between the Washington Athletic Department, the Pac-10 and the NCAA this past month, Dollar fully revealed his improper contact with both recruits in question.

"As the questioning was a shock and a panic because I have never been in a situation where I was getting questioned," Dollar said. "I was coming to the realization that I had gone from aggressive recruiting to out-of-bounds. It's always tough in the beginning to admit that you've done wrong and to what extent. I didn't have a full grasp of the repercussions, not only for myself but also for the people you care about."

Dollar first thought he had corresponded with the main recruit in question before the prospect had finished his sophomore year, including providing the recruit's father of an 800 number that they could use to call the coaches. During a Premier team tournament at UW, Dollar greeted recruits and their families as they came and went, although he claims he never watched the tournament. He also arranged travel and hotel plans to AAU tournaments in Oakland and Las Vegas to coincide with the same plans of AAU and JC coaches also traveling to those tournaments. He also traveled to the prospect's home town of Clarkston, Washington, fully intending to have the prospect show him around town and to impress him. While in Clarkston, Dollar had several impermissible contacts and an evaluation while the prospect was playing basketball with some friends. Dollar also talked to the prospect's mother and sister while he watched the prospect play.

Dollar also attended 'open gyms' and/or practices of the Gary Payton Select Team at Rainier Beach High School and the Rotary Select Team at the Seattle Rotary Club or Seattle University. In the case of the other prospect, he introduced himself at an open gym to the prospect and his father, and then sat down in another part of the gym while coaches from Gonzaga and North Carolina talked to the recruit's Mother. The Mother then went over to Dollar, who then talked to her.

Noting Cameron's youth, the short time he has been at UW and his reputation, Hedges said that they feel the penalties will constitute a 'sufficient warning' to Dollar. Firing Dollar wasn't an option, according to Hedges. "I did not believe termination was appropriate in this case," she said. "I did not consider it. We had to make the penalties extremely severe because of the nature of this case and because of the number of the violations."

Dollar echoed his AD's sentiments. "I will use this as a learning tool, as a lesson to the guys I coach about the responsibility of playing within the rules and also the responsibility of being held accountable for your actions," he said.

"Nothing has changed about my opinion of Cameron Dollar," Romar said. "He has made some mistakes...some big mistakes. But his ability to respond to those mistakes has shown me once again the champion that he is."

Of lesser note, Assistant Coach Ken Bone will be issued a letter of caution and Basketball Director of Operations Lance LaVetter has been orally cautioned by the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance. "While Coach Bone did create a violation, it was done as a form of an apology, so we felt no additional penalty was necessary," Hedges said. Bone called up the Mother of a prospect to apologize for continuing to send recruiting correspondence to their family after their son had committed to attend Gonzaga University. Washington was no longer recruiting the player, but a computer-generated correspondence list had produced recruiting letters.

The report will be sent to the Pac-10 offices and the compliance committee will meet on December 9th in Los Angeles to review the case. They have the option to do what they want to do. Rob Aronson, the current Washington faculty athletics representative, has also served on the Pac-10's compliance committee and he feels that the only issue to be resolved is going to be why Washington came to the punishment it did in regards to the infractions in the report. "Our facts and the facts in their own investigation coincide, so they will essentially ask us about our penalties and why we did what we did. It's my belief that we took responsible and substantial action and our hope is that they will accept that."

Their findings, in the form of a recommendation, will be sent to the Pac-10 council, and they will either accept the recommendation or do something different. In most cases, even though the council has the authority to do what it pleases, they accept the findings of the compliance committee. And then it's sent to the NCAA, who also has the option of accepting the findings or choosing alternate penalties. "Since the NCAA has been on this case since the beginning, they may be following a parallel track instead of normally waiting for the Pac-10's findings," Aronson said.

Aronson went on to explain how the NCAA got in on the investigation so early. "Several coaches from other schools complained about one aspect of the activity involved here and they were under the impression that the press also knew about it, which turned out to be accurate," he said. "Since they believe the press would report on it, they felt that they needed to find out what was going on as soon as possible. The NCAA first interviewed the people that they had been told about, and then they started looking at other aspects of the case. They asked us if we would join with them in interviewing people on campus - Lorenzo (Romar), Cameron (Dollar), Lance LaVetter - so we conducted joint interviews within the first week that we had heard about the information."

Romar was contrite, but also emphatic that this is a minor setback in his rebuilding process. "There's no secret that violations were committed and we're not hiding those," he said. "We are admitting to all of those violations. It's not a permanent setback, it's a temporary setback. I have a staff of extremely hard workers and resilient guys. We'll roll up our sleeves and each pitch in and work a little harder."

Romar didn't specify how the recruiting responsibilities would be divided in Dollar's absence. Top Stories