Former Minnesota coach Clem Haskins lied to investigators about "widespread academic misconduct" in his basketball program and also told his players to lie, a report concluded Friday.
Two of the university's top athletics officials resigned hours before the release of the report, which sharply criticized the athletic department, academic counseling supervisors and faculty for failing to detect the improper assistance to players.
The scandal began in March when former tutor Jan Gangelhoff said she had done more than 400 papers for as many as 20 basketball players between 1993 and 1998. The investigative report, prepared for the university by an outside law firm, substantiated most of Gangelhoff's claims.
As the report was released, university president Mark Yudof announced the resignations of McKinley Boston, vice president of student development and athletics, and men's athletics director Mark Dienhart.
Haskins issued a statement through his attorney denying he had knowledge of the academic fraud.
"I did not know that Jan Gangelhoff was writing papers for players. I have not told anyone to lie or interfere with investigators; I have not made improper payments to players or Jan Gangelhoff," Haskins said.
While Yudof said he felt Boston and Dienhart were good men who simply managed badly, he had sharp words when asked about Haskins.
"I am angry," Yudof said. "I feel I was lied to to my face, and that the problem was much deeper, and that this program was corrupt in almost any way one can think about it."
The investigation also found that Haskins gave up to $200 in cash directly to three athletes, and that he arranged a standing hotel discount for parents of athletes even though he had been cited by the NCAA for a similar violation at Western Kentucky.
"Any conclusions based on a mischaracterization by the investigators of my own testimony attempting to establish that I knew of the academic fraud is completely outrageous," Haskins said. "It is wrong in light of the fact that on eight different occasions over the course of four separate interviews, I truthfully denied having any knowledge of academic fraud."
Yudof said the team competed with one or more ineligible players in the last five seasons because of the academic help, and forfeits and repayments of some postseason money may result.
The 1,000-page report, with another 1,500 pages of supporting exhibits, was compiled by outside investigators hired by the university. It portrayed Haskins as a "power coach" who had enough success that his program became "untouchable" in the eyes of some administrators and faculty.
Assignments, papers and exams were routinely written for at least 18 players, and academic policies were manipulated to keep players eligible. For five seasons starting in 1994-95, the team played with at least one player who was ineligibl because of improper help, the report said.
"We conclude that between 1993 and 1998 there was systematic, widespread academic misconduct in the men's basketball program," the report said.
"While nothing in the report demonstrates either Dr. Boston or Dr. Dienhart knew of the cheating, the facts showed they had strong reason to be suspicious" of the academic counseling program, Yudof said. "Plenty of warning signs were sent."
The report will be forwarded to the NCAA, which "will find we violated standards ... of institutional control," Yudof said.
In October, Yudof banned the team from postseason tournaments and put the program on indefinite probation. On Friday, he announced several more steps, including shifting supervision of intercollegiate programs to his chief of staff.
Dienhart resigned a few hours before the report was released, saying he was innocent of any wrongdoing. He rejected an offer to complete the contract in a reassigned role. Boston told WCCO-TV that he would resign when his contract expires June 30.
Yudof also said contracts would not be renewed for Jeff Schemmel, senior associate men's athletic director, and Chris Schoemann, athletic compliance officer.
Yudof defended Haskins' $1.5 million buyout in June, saying Minnesota needed new leadership to start the season without blemish.
"It was also the right decision given the information I had at the time. In fact investigators only received new information regarding Clem Haskins within the past few weeks, the end of October," he said.
The report details secondary recruiting violations but centers on actions by Haskins, Gangelhoff and other principals in the basketball and tutoring programs.
Haskins and former counselor Alonzo Newby "interfered with the university's efforts to discover the truth about these matters by themselves being not truthful with university investigators when this matter first arose, and, in the case of Coach Haskins, by instructing student-athletes to mislead the university's attorneys when questioned about their academic conduct immediately prior to the 1999 NCAA men's basketball tournament," the report said.
The Saint Paul Pioneer Press broke the story of Gangelhoff's allegations the day before the Golden Gophers played in last season's NCAA tournament. Four players were held out of the first-round game, a loss to Gonzaga.
Circumstantial evidence is "sufficiently compelling" to indicate Haskins knew Gangelhoff and Newby were involved in doing players' work for them, the report said.
Memos show Boston was told of many of the problems that led to the investigation, including alleged favors for players and conflicts between basketball and academic counseling.
But in 1994, he approved separating academic counseling for basketball from the rest of the counseling unit. That, critics say, made it easier for academic faud to occur.
Elayne Donahue, a supervisor in the academic counseling unit, often clashed with Haskins over counseling philosophies. But the report said Donahue, who was Gangelhoff's direct supervisor, was among those who should have detected the cheating.
The report also said many players were deprived of any chance that their counseling would be guided by true academic pursuit.
"Instead they received counseling guided by the concept of eligibility maintenance," it said.
Donahue said Friday she often told her supervisors, including Dienhart and Boston, of her suspicions but they took little action.
"I was told many times by my boss that my job was to keep Clem Haskins happy," Donahue said.
Gangelhoff also blamed Haskins for creating a win-at-all-costs culture in the program.
"He should step up and take responsibility for his role like the rest of us are trying to do," she said.
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