Just hours before the University of Minnesota's opening-round basketball game with Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament, university officials declared four players ineligible for that game, after accusations of cheating surfaced in a local newspaper.
"We believe there is prima facie evidence to support some of the serious allegations," McKinley Boston, the university's vice president for athletics and student development, said at a news conference. He added that the university would hire an outside investigator to look into the allegations.
The controversy began when former university employee Jan Gangelhoff said she wrote papers, did take-home exams, and other course work for at least 20 Minnesota basketball players, including the four now on the team, a published report said Wednesday.
The four players are Kevin Clark, Miles Tarver, Antoine Broxsie, and Jason Stanford.
"We view this at the university as very, very serious business," university President Mark Yudof said. "The University of Minnesota needs to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity.
Coach Clem Haskins, interviewed briefly at his hotel in Seattle said the allegations were "news to me."
"I've been here 13 years. Don't you know me, what I stand for as a man, as a person? I haven't changed," Haskins said. "All I'm trying to do is win a game. All I'm worrying about is beating Gonzaga. It's all I'm concentrating on. All I'll say is I will talk when the tournament is over."
Four former players told the Saint Paul Pioneer Press that work was prepared for them in possible violation of the student code of conduct and NCAA regulations.
The four former players are Courtney James, Russ Archambault, Kevin Loge, and Darrell Whaley. Another former player, Trevor Winter, who now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, said he was aware of the practice.
Of the other players, Jermaine Stanford and Ryan Wolf denied that Gangelhoff, the former office manager in the academic counseling unit, did their course work. Micah Watkins, Voshon Lenard, and Hosea Crittenden refused comment. Bobby Jackson, who now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, said Gangelhoff mostly just typed his papers. That also is a possible NCAA violation.
Five other former players could not be reached for comment by the newspaper.
Gangelhoff estimates that from 1993 to 1998, she did more than 400 pieces of course work for players, including some starters on the 1996-97 Final Four team.
"They bring in these high-risk kids, and they know that everything they did in high school was done for them," Gangelhoff said. "It's got to stop somewhere."
Gangelhoff, 50, provided the Pioneer Press with computer files containing more than 225 examples of course work for 19 players that she says she wrote and players turned in. Gangelhoff said she kept only about half her files.
Gangelhoff aso provided printed copies of five pieces of course work that she said had been turned in by students. Some of the papers had grades and instructor's comments written on them. All five pieces also appeared in Gangelhoff's computer files.
Elayne Donahue, the retired head of the academic counseling unit, said she was unaware of the fraud but warned athletic department administrators that the office manager was tutoring players in violation of department policy and was ignored.
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