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Louisville B-Ball Awaits Its Fate

The University of Louisville is appealing to the NCAA Infractions Committee not to impose the death penalty on the men's basketball program over recruiting violations.

At a nearly four-hour closed meeting on Sunday, enforcement investigators and university officials discussed, among other things, an assistant coach's telephone call in 1996 that may have broken the five-year probation imposed by the NCAA two years ago.

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The Infractions Committee could stop short of the death penalty -- a one-year shutdown of the program -- with other punishment or accept Louisville's self-imposed penalties as sufficient.

"I think we took dramatic steps, painful steps, and whether that is sufficient, the committee will have to make the decision on that," president John Shumaker said.

Eight other violations occurred in the women's volleyball program. Although Louisville agreed with the NCAA on seven of the nine violations, two remained in contention.

Most of the violations pertained to recruiting efforts or giving athletes and their relatives extra benefits.

"We had a very good discussion. It was cordial, it was analytical, it was penetrating," Shumaker said as he left the hotel ballroom where the meeting was held. "It was not highly adversarial at all."

But Shumaker and athletic director Tom Jurich refused to speculate on the eight-member committee's decision, which is expected in 4-6 weeks.

A tight-lipped Jurich said, "The credit card. The room rate," when asked what remained at issue.

He referred to then-assistant basketball coach Scooter McCray's phone call to a hotel where Frederick Johnson, the father of player Nate Johnson, was staying.

Investigators said McCray obtained a substantial discount on the room rate, and left his Diners' Club card with hotel managers to prevent Johnson from being evicted from his room for failure to pay his bills.

However, Louisville has contended its internal investigation showed a former assistant manager of the hotel provided the discount on her own, and said the phone call was not made until wo weeks after Johnson's stay began.

McCray admitted leaving the card, but said he never intended to pay the bill himself.

Since the current investigation began, the university has transferred McCray to an administrative post. Head volleyball coach Leonard Yelin was suspended for a month without pay.

An assistant women's volleyball coach was reprimanded and the volleyball team's preseason trip to Japan last year was canceled.

Denny Crum, coach of the men's basketball team for 27 years and a Hall of Famer who has led the Cardinals to two national championships, received a reprimand. His contract was renewed in March.

"I've seen no reason to fire him," Shumaker said Sunday.

The case, deemed "major" by the NCAA, has produced hundreds of pages of witness testimony during investigations by both Louisville and the NCAA staff.

Besides the hotel incident, all the other violations cited in this round occurred in the women's volleyball program.

Yelin and his staff were cited for providing the student-athletes with rides, lodging, financial aid, help with enrollment forms and even paying a dentist's bill. The NCAA investigators said neither Yelin nor the university adequately monitored activities of the volleyball staff.

Although Louisville agreed the violations occurred, the university contended that it was not responsible for Yelin's lack of knowledge of the rules. Jurich and Shumaker said that question was still in dispute Sunday.

The five-year probation was imposed in 1996 for 10 violations -- six deemed major and four secondary. They involved an athlete's use of two cars and improper contacts or phone calls with recruits by assistant coaches.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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