Minnesota Stripped Of Conference Championship

The Big Ten on Tuesday stripped Minnesota of its 1997 conference championship for an academic fraud scandal that already has cost the team five scholarships.

The Big Ten also vacated any individual and team records and conference honors of any player or coach cited in the NCAA report.

The NCAA report spanned the 1993-94 season through the 1998-99 season. The Big Ten reviewed the report by the governing body before issuing its penalties.

However, the Big Ten will not change its conference standings or awards for those seasons. But all references to Minnesota's performances, the championship or other awards during those years will be removed in future Big Ten publications.

"The university has agreed to these sanctions and will take immediate steps to implement them," said Mark Rotenberg, the school's general counsel. "We hope this is the final step to putting this matter to rest."

Last month, the NCAA put the men's athletics department on four years' probation and took away five basketball scholarships in what it said was one of the worst cases of academic fraud in 20 years.

The scandal surfaced in March 1999, when office manager and team tutor Jan Gangelhoff admitted writing more than 400 papers for at least 18 players in a five-year period.

The university pursued a nine-month, $2.2 million investigation and ended up buying out the $1.5 million contract of Clem Haskins, then the coach.

The school now is trying to recover the money, saying Haskins knew about the cheating.

As part of the NCAA's punishment, Minnesota also had to take down banners and make no reference in school materials to the Gophers' participation in three NCAA tournaments, including the 1997 Final Four, and two NITs, including its 1998 titles.

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