Devaney begins probe

MU professor jumps into the investigation of the basketball team.
Thursday, August 28, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:52 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Professor Michael Devaney said Wednesday that as the leader of an investigation of the MU basketball team, he has begun reading depositions and other information compiled by the university’s athletic department. “I have a lot of information to wade through,” Devaney said. “I have to depend on the primary sources like depositions. I’ve been trying to come up to speed.”

Devaney also confirmed that he met with UM System President Elson Floyd and other members of the five-person investigation team Wednesday, but refused to comment on the scope of their actions.

Devaney, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said he reports directly to Floyd, who appointed him to the position Monday.

“I’m not running a witch-hunt,” he said. “I’m trying to do a thorough job of investigating the problem.”

Associate Athletic Director Sarah Reesman and Assistant Athletic Director Mary Austin will also be on the team, as will Bill Arnet, who serves as legal counsel the university, and Forestry Professor Carl Settergren, who serves as the campus representative to the NCAA.

“My report is to President Floyd,” Devaney said. “The outcome will be in Dr. Floyd’s hands, although there may be recommendations made by the team.”

Devaney was appointed on the same day Floyd expanded the investigation from an internal athletic-department investigation focusing on Ricky Clemons to one involving the entire men’s basketball program.

Floyd cited allegations made by Ricky Clemons’ ex-girlfriend Jessica Bunge as the motivation for expanding the investigation.

Earlier this month, Bunge told The Kansas City Star that Clemons received gifts from MU athletic department members, including MU basketball coach Quin Snyder. She also said tutors employed by the athletic department did homework for Clemons and provided test answers before exams.

Snyder has admitted to giving Clemons a pair of tennis shoes and sweatpants. On Tuesday, he issued a statement saying he “will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation that is being spearheaded by our compliance staff through its completion.”

Clemons pleaded guilty in April to misdeameanor assault against his then girlfriend, Bunge. He was removed from the team July 22 after violating his parole by attending a gathering at Floyd’s house on July 4. He was released from jail Sunday after serving a 60-day sentence.

Devaney said his relationship with Floyd began after he developed a resolution for the MU Faculty Council that was inspired by the Clemons incident. That resolution called for academic officials to oversee decisions about suspending athletes accused of wrongdoing.

Devaney felt Floyd chose him to lead the investigation team because of the issue raised about academic honesty.

“That is an area that the faculty holds most sacred,” Devaney said.

That investigation will also delve into issues about the program’s academic side, said UM spokesman Joe Moore.”Dr. Floyd would like the team to provide information as soon as possible regarding the allegations discussed in the media against the men’s basketball team,” Moore said.

University spokesman David Russell said Floyd was pleased Devaney accepted the position as lead investigator.

“Dr. Floyd has the greatest respect for Michael Devaney,” Russell said. “He is highly respected by his peers and it is expected that he will conduct an aggressive and fair investigation.”

Russell said the investigation team has been asked to “take a close look at any and all allegations that have or may be made involving the men’s basketball team. “

Devaney, who is in his 35th year as an MU professor, said the new role has added to his already busy workload.

“It’s going to take an enormous amount of time, “ Devaney said. “We’re not going to sacrifice quality for expediency.”

Devaney will continue to hold his seat on the MU Faculty Council as well, although his term as chairman ended July 31, he said.

“It’s been kind of crazy; I beg the indulgence of my students,” he said. “I very highly value my role as a teacher and mentor to my graduate students.”

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