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Thursday, November 27, 2014

UNM 125: Athletic housecleaning continues

Daily revelations rock department

Printed January 14, 1980

On Sept. 25, 1979, the National Collegiate Athletic Association filed 57 allegations of rules violations against the UNM men’s basketball program.

Less than three months later, enough information had been revealed through local, state and federal investigations to lead the UNM Athletic Council to unanimously recommend the resignation of basketball coach Norm Ellenberger.

Since that time, the public has been rocked and shocked by daily revelations of player ineligibility, wire tappings, illegal recruiting tactics, questionable bank loans to athletes, and several in-house investigations.

The UNM athletic scandal has reached the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time and Newsweek. A camera crew from television’s 60 Minutes was at University Arena last month talking to Lobo players for an upcoming special report on university athletic programs. Such publicity has led to numerous investigations of universities, administrations and student-athletes nation-wide.

Here is a summary of the major events occurring during UNM’s winter break:

Tuesday, Dec. 11

The FBI is asked to trace six money orders used to pay for a course UNM basketball players say they never attended.

Ottawa College officials at the school’s center in Phoenix say they don’t know who paid for the course.

Three walk-ons, Guy Berger, Darryl Faulkner and Lex Zerwas, join the Lobo basketball team after a 45-minute tryout of more than 60 athletes.

Former football coach Bill Mondt, whose contract with UNM ends Feb. 1, takes a position with Competitive Edge, an Albuquerque-based firm.

The Lobos get their first victory with a win against Grand Canyon College, 78-68 before a Pit crowd of 15,344

Wednesday, Dec. 12

Sen. Aubrey Dunn, D-Otero, tells UNM officials to “take the kid gloves off” concerning its athletic program and end the practice of “social promotions” of students not meeting academic standards.

UNM Dean of Admissions Robert Weaver says he is trying to determine the validity of records from Southern Idaho State Junior College and Pacific Christian College in Fullerton, Calif., to determine academic eligibility of members of UNM’s men’s basketball team.

UNM administrators answer subpoenas for student records and testify before a federal grand jury. Those testifying include Weaver; Carroll J. Lee, comptroller; John E. Whiteside, associate director of student financial aid; and Fred Chreist Jr., director of student financial aid.

Thursday, Dec. 13

Suspended assistant basketball coach Manny Goldstein resigns. Goldstein is under investigation by federal authorities in connection with allegations of mail fraud and bribery.

Friday, Dec. 14

UNM forfeits six fall football victories because tight end Chris Combs, who is academically ineligible, played in all 12 Lobo games.

Friday, Dec. 14

The UNM Athletic Council meets in secret to discuss the future of suspended basketball coach Ellenberger. Ellenberger did not attend the meeting.

Saturday Dec. 15

No Lobo athletes will receive credit for an extension course taught in a Van Nuys, Calif. garage last summer, Weaver says. This includes six basketball players: seniors Paul Roby, Andre Logan and Larry Belin, juniors Larry Tarrance and Jerome Henderson, and sophomore Larry Hubbard. Football players Combs, Dave Wyrick and Darryl Bryson are also declared ineligible for receiving credit for the course, titled “Current Problems and Principles in Coaching Athletics.”

Monday Dec. 17

Ellenberger is fired for violating NCAA rules and UNM regulations. President William E. Davis said he fired Ellenberger for “willful and grossly incompetent conduct injurious” to the university.

Bill Byrne, executive director of the Lobo Boosters Club, submits his letter of resignation.

Tuesday, Dec. 18

Regent Phillip U. Martinez says Ellenberger was warned nearly a year ago to change his recruiting tactics.

Wednesday, Dec. 19

Joe Morrison, the 1979 Southern Conference Coach of the Year and a former all-pro star with the New York Giants, is named UNM’s 23rd head football coach.

He accepts a five-year, $45,000-a-year contract.

Davis accepts responsibility for the troubled UNM athletic program, but says he has no knowledge of the activities which led to the scandal.

Weaver says in a letter to the Athletic Council that some faculty members are “handing out unearned and unjustified grades” at UNM.

The letter says coaches sometimes fill out admissions applications for student-athletes and “in many instances, athletes have not even signed the form.”

Harold Baily, director of the UNM Afro-American Studies Program, recommends the hiring of a black academic council for black student-athletes.

Thursday, Dec. 20

An investigation of UNM basketball team travel expenses has led to investigations of all major athletic programs and some of the smaller programs. Travel vouchers, subpoenaed by the federal grand jury, are being audited by the FBI to determine whether the state paid for expensive motels, when the team stayed at cheaper locations.

Friday, Dec. 21

Davis confirms that he was questioned in early October by journalism professor Charles Coates, concerning suspect credits given a basketball player. Coates said a player he had flunked in a summer course was practicing with the team. Coates said he had been told that without a passing grade, the player would be ineligible.

Gary Colson, coach of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., is named as the 13th Lobo basketball coach. Colson, 45, signs a five-year, $37,500-per-year contract.

Weaver says athletes who plan to attend UNM must send transcripts directly to the Registrar’s Office and not through members of the Athletic Department.

Saturday, Dec. 22

UNM officials were aware in 1978 of an alleged grade-purchasing system between UNM athletes and a California college, according to a report to the Athletic Council.

The allegations to the council are contained in a three-page report from Coates, who says he warned officials last fall that a basketball player had failed a journalism course and might be academically ineligible.

Friday, Dec. 28

Davis calls Coates’ questions about Davis’ handling of the athletic investigation “malicious.”

Saturday, Dec. 29

Sen. Les Houston (D-Bern.) requests the state Legislature to open its own probe of the scandal.

Thursday, Jan. 3

Davis testifies for more than two hours before a federal grand jury probing the UNM athletic scandal.

Friday, Jan. 4

Minority hiring practices at UNM and the athletic department are under investigation by the Department of Labor. Questions have been raised about whether affirmative action guidelines were followed in hiring Athletic Director John Bridgers, football coach Joe Morrison and basketball coach Gary Colson.

Monday, Jan. 7

Basketball players Michael Johnson and Keith Magee are ruled academically ineligible for the second semester beginning Jan. 21.