Northridge Coach Arrested

Actress Idina Menzel is photographed at the cast party for "The Public Sings: a 50th Anniversary Celebration," an event showcasing the Public Theater's musical theater history, in New York Jan. 30, 2006.

Michael J. Abraham, about to start his fourth year as women's basketball coach at Cal State Northridge, has been arrested and charged with selling cocaine, the FBI announced Wednesday.

Abraham, 39, was released from federal custody after promising to pay $100,000 bail within two weeks, authorities said.

The university announced in a news release that Abraham had been relieved "for now" of his duties as coach, and placed on administrative leave.

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Former coach Judy Brame, the school's senior associate athletic director, will serve as acting coach.

"The university's decision will provide a smooth transition for the women's basketball program because Judy Brame has coached the team in the past," athletic director Paul Bubb said in the news release. "And this also will give Coach Abraham the time necessary to focus on his personal issues."

Brame, 58, coached the school's basketball team from 1974-79 and again from 1980-83, guiding the Matadors to a 101-89 record.

Northridge was 23-59 under Abraham, going 5-22 in the 1995-96 season, 4-23 the following year and 14-14 last season while finishing tied for third in the Big Sky Conference.

Abraham was associate head coach of the women's basketball team at Oregon State from 1991-95. Before that, he was an assistant at Cal State Long Beach for six seasons.

FBI agents arrested Abraham on Tuesday night at the university, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas Monaghan of Omaha, Neb.

Abraham, paid $67,000 per year by Cal State Northridge, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, Monaghan said.

Abraham allegedly sold the "crack" in northeast Omaha between Feb. 1, 1996, and Jan. 28, 1997, Monaghan said.

The prosecutor said $53,000 in cash was seized at Omaha's Eppley Airfield in January 1997 and three kilograms of cocaine were seized about the same time at the Burbank, Calif., airport. The money and drugs were allegedly linked to Abraham.

"To be best of y knowledge, the university had no prior indication that anything was amiss," university spokesman John Chandler said.

If convicted, Abraham faces a minimum 10-year prison term and could receive life in prison, Monaghan said. He also could be fined up to $4 million.

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