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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Did Lute Olson break the rules?

    Did Lute Olson break the rules?

    UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood released a statement Monday containing a self-report of infraction to the Pacific 10 Conference regarding a potential recruiting violation from Lute Olson.

    In a statement obtained by the Arizona Daily Wildcat on Monday, Livengood filed the NCAA Level II infraction this summer, citing a letter Olson allegedly signed seeking private donations for an Amateur Athletic Union basketball tournament held in McKale Center.

    Olson released a follow-up retraction to the boosters, claiming the original letter was sent from the basketball operations office without him ever seeing or approving it, because “”it was a clear cut violation of NCAA rules.””

    Olson, whose recruiting history is clear of legal blemishes, also stated his remorse for the original letter, which included an electronic signature and was sent out marked “”personal and confidential.””

    “”I am very embarrassed that this letter was sent,”” Olson said in the follow-up letter. “”I have already met with our compliance officer to apologize about this letter. Please accept my deepest apology.””

    On April 10, Bill Morgan, UA associate director of athletics for compliance, received a copy of the letter Olson’s staff distributed to the Rebounders Club seeking donations for the Arizona Cactus Classic AAU tournament, held May 9-11, according to documents.

    Morgan immediately contacted the Pac-10 to ensure he interpreted the NCAA regulations correctly, who agreed it was indeed a violation.

    When reached via telephone Monday evening, Morgan declined to elaborate.

    “”No further comment means no further comment,”” Morgan said.

    Livengood sent the report to Ron Barker, Pac-10 associate commissioner in charge of governance and enforcement, on July 2 and listed Olson as the only coach involved with the potential infraction.

    “”I remain absolutely committed to operating University of Arizona Intercollegiate Athletics with the highest ethical standards,”” Livengood said in a statement also released Monday. “”To that end, I will hold all involved responsible and will continue to monitor and report any and all infractions.””

    Cactus Classic Director Jim Storey was advised not contact the donors or accept donations from this letter, which originally stated: “”Jim needs support from private donations. The athletics department can’t assist in any way. This is why your help is crucial.””

    Storey did not return phone calls at the time of publication Monday,

    The NCAA prohibits institutional representatives from providing or arranging financial assistances, both directly and indirectly, which includes the costs of a recruit’s expenses prior to enrollment.

    If the allegations hold up, the prospective recruit(s) who chose to play for Arizona would have to reimburse the value of the benefit, according to NCAA Bylaw 13.15.

    Although the allegations did not involve any specific athletes, current UA freshman Darnell Shumpert and ’09 prospect Abdul Gaddy – who last night verbally recommitted to play for the team – participated in the 2008 Cactus Classic.

    Livengood’s report states that Storey received “”zero response from those folks about donating to his endeavor,”” which may be moot in this investigation.

    “”We have always been very diligent in following rules to the letter,”” Olson said in the follow up letter to the Rebounders Club. “”We always make sure to cross our t’s and dot our i’s and do not look for a way around the rules.””

    In the original letter seeking funds, Olson’s signature drastically varies compared to the one in his retraction letter. Olson’s first and last name are scripted in the original letter, while only his first name is signed in the second.

    “”This is an unfortunate and regrettable error,”” Olson said in Livengood’s statement. “”We have always prided ourselves on operating within NCAA rules and regulations, and we will use this as a way to refocus our efforts on remaining completely within those rules.””


    What does this mean?

    If Jim Storey, Cactus Classic AAU tournament director, accepted donations from boosters – the Rebounders Club, in this instance – then the prospective recruit(s) who choose to play for Arizona would have to reimburse the value of the benefit.

    The allegations did not involve any specific athletes, and in Livengood’s report, he states that Storey was “”advised not to contact the donors or accept donations.””


    ORIGINAL LETTER
    PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

    Dear Rebounders:
    The Arizona Cactus Classic is an AAU basketball tournament run by Jim Storey. This will be its third year and the dates are May 9-11. This tournament brings some of the top players in the country to Tucson and is very critical for our recruiting. These are high level players that wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to visit our city and the University of Arizona campus. This tournament is a huge tool for us and it is a big part of how we get our recruits.

    To ensure the future of this tournament, Jim needs support from private donations. The athletics department can’t assist in any way. This is why your help is crucial.

    Jim Storey will contact you regarding your assistance. If you want to contact him or get more information, I encourage you to call his office at 520-321-1616 x-13 or on the website at azcactusclassic.com. I want you to know how important this is to Arizona Basketball recruiting. It is a great way to bring these athletes to Tucson and our campus.

    I hope you and your families are all doing well. Thank you in advance.

    Go ‘Cats!
    Lute Olson
    Head Coach, Men’s Basketball

    Olson’s second letter sent to UA hoops boosters

    Dear Rebounders:

    A letter was sent from the basketball office under my electronic signature, which I had never seen or approved in any way because it was a clear cut violation of NCAA rules.

    We have always been very diligent in following rules to the letter. We always make sure to cross our “”t’s”” and dot our “”i’s”” and do not look for a way around the rules.

    I am very embarrassed that this letter was sent. I have already met with our compliance officer to apologize about this letter. Please accept my deepest apology. Thank you for your understanding.

    Best regards,
    Lute Olson


    The rule – NCAA Bylaw 13.15

    An institution or a representative of its athletics interests shall not offer, provide or arrange financial assistance, directly or indirectly, to pay (in whole or in part) the costs of the prospective student-athlete’s educational or other expenses for any period prior to his or her enrollment or so the prospective student-athlete can obtain a postgraduate education.

    For violations of Bylaw 13.15 in which the value of the benefit received directly by the prospective student-athlete is $100 or less, the eligibility of the prospective student-athlete shall not be affected conditioned on the prospective student-athlete repaying the value of the benefit to a charity of his or her choice.

    However, the prospective student-athlete shall remain ineligible from the time the institution has knowledge of the receipt of the direct impermissible benefit until the prospective student-athlete repays the benefit, Violation of this bylaw remain institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1, and documentation of the prospective student-athlete’s repayment shall be forwarded to the enforcement staff.

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