Hedges addresses media

During half-time of Washington's eventual 24-point win over Stanford Thursday night in women's basketball, Husky Athletic Director Barbara Hedges addressed the media regarding Rick Neuheisel's public apology. Earlier in the week Neuheisel went on record as saying he had not interviewed for the head coaching position with the San Francisco 49'ers.

Neuheisel then told John Levesque of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Blaine Newnham of the Seattle times Wednesday night that he did, in fact, interview and publically apologized for his misleading statements.

"Rick Neuheisel set the record straight regarding any involvement he might have had with the San Francisco 49'ers," Hedges began. "Initially, as you know, because of a confidential agreement he had with the 49'ers, he did not disclose that he had actually interviewed with them or talked to them about the 49'er position. Since then he has set the record straight. He regrets that this ocurred and we all regret that this ocurred. The important thing is that Rick has apologized and we, as a University, have accepted his apology and we would like to move on."

When asked about the nature of the agreement, Hedges couldn't comment, but she did add, "All I can tell you is what Rick felt and that he felt he had made a commitment. At no time did he want to hurt the institution or hurt the program. That's just not who Rick is. But he's conceeded he made a mistake and it's as simple as that."

Probably the stickiest issue surrounding Neuheisel's covert interview with San Francisco revolved around keeping Washington in the dark. Hedges reiterated that nobody in the 49'ers organization ever approached her regarding Neuheisel and his possible interest in their job. "Absolutely not, I was never contacted by anyone," Hedges said.

"On Thursday Rick and I had a meeting, and during that meeting I wanted to put a statement out saying that he was not interested in the 49'ers job. I asked him if he had been contacted by anyone and he told me at that time that he had been contacted by a third party. He was leaving for a weekend skiing vacation at that time and I told him to take the weekend to sort it out. I was not aware that Rick left Sunday to interview or to discuss the job with the 49'ers. I was not aware of that.

"Let's just say that as an institution and me personally, if Rick had wanted to interview with the 49'ers I would have understood that. But what is disappointing to all of us is that when he was asked the question he didn't say 'no comment' or he wasn't prepared to answer at that time or 'Yes I did'.

Clearly the tone of Hedges' statements suggested reconciliation between Neuheisel and the University, and she said that Neuheisel will not be censured for his actions. "No. We've accepted his apology," she said. "We've heard his explaination, he's apologized for it, he's very embarassed by it, and we've accepted it.

"I think the important thing is that Rick admitted he made a mistake and didn't fully disclose. He apologized. He probably has hurt his credibility but he will work very hard to repair that. And I know he wants to and I know he regrets that this happened. We all do."

When asked whether or not the University's credibility has taken a hit, Hedges felt that wasn't the case. "I don't think so," she said. "And Rick would never want to do that. This was a personal thing with Rick. It certainly involved the institution because he's the football coach, but he didn't involve the institution in the process."

Hedges commented on what the athletic department will do in future cases regarding Neuheisel's, or other of her employees' interest in jobs outside the AD. "I think our agreement is that he just won't be interested (in other jobs)," she said. "But if a particular job became available and was interesting or attractive I would not prevent anyone from speaking to either an institution or a pro team or whomever they want to talk to. That's just not what I would do. But certainly we need to talk a great deal about how we handle these situations and try and do a better job."

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