End date for MU basketball investigation pushed back

NCAA rules mandate confidentiality during the ongoing inquiry.
Monday, March 1, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:45 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

With a few loose ends still needing to be tied up, the target date for completing an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct within MU’s men’s basketball program continues to get pushed back.

MU Professor Michael Devaney, who was appointed by UM President Elson Floyd in August to lead a five-member team to investigate alleged violations, said he had hoped to conclude the “active discovery phase” of the inquiry before the end of February.

“Obviously, we are limited by (the NCAA’s) timeline,” Devaney said. “We have a tremendous amount of time and effort in this whole process, and it just has to play out the way it has to play out.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association began its investigation in September. Since then, Devaney said, his team has been cooperating “very closely” with the NCAA. He added that he could not disclose details of his talks with the NCAA.

Devaney’s team includes associate athletic directors Sarah Reesman and Mary Austin; Mitzi Clayton, director of compliance for the MU Athletic Department; UM legal counsel Bill Arnet; and MU forestry professor Carl Settergren.

Reesman said she also has maintained regular contact with the NCAA. However, she said she could not comment on the nature of the talks and would not speculate on a timeline.

“The things that we’re working on are part of an ongoing investigation that we just simply can’t make public,” Reesman said.

Arnet said the investigation team still has to conduct a few more interviews and is working to conclude the investigation as soon as possible.

“We have agreed to keep it confidential with the NCAA,” Arnet said. “Part of the bylaws of the NCAA is that when we do interviews and conduct the investigation, we keep it confidential while the investigation is ongoing.”

Although it’s not unusual for the NCAA to work under a veil of secrecy, MU officials say they, too, are barred from saying anything about MU’s investigation or whether results of Devaney’s inquiry will ever become public.

“The release of information regarding the investigation is restricted by a need for confidentiality stemming from NCAA by-laws,” Floyd said in a statement. “We do not know when the NCAA will complete its investigation.”

UM spokesman Joe Moore said Devaney and Floyd maintain a “direct reporting relationship,” but said he did not know how often they communicate or the nature of that relationship.

It has not been decided whether Devaney’s report to Floyd will be released to the public, Moore said.

Floyd put Devaney in charge of MU’s investigation into the men’s basketball program on Aug. 25, the day after former guard Ricky Clemons was released from Boone County Jail. Clemons served 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to choking his ex-girlfriend, former MU student Jessica Bunge.

Under Devaney’s lead, the investigative team was to find out whether Clemons received illegal academic tutoring and to investigate accusations that head coach Quin Snyder gave Clemons sweatpants, shoes and money. Snyder has admitted giving Clemons shoes and sweatpants.

Floyd’s decision to have Devaney head an internal inquiry reflects what many universities have done during recent high-profile NCAA cases.

John Roush, president of Centre College in Danville, Ky., and a member of the NCAA’s Division 3 Presidents Council since 1999, said it is common for universities to parallel NCAA investigations. Many universities conduct their own reviews to enhance cooperation and transparency throughout the investigatory process, Roush said.

The severity of allegations against a university’s athletic program typically has no bearing on the length of an NCAA inquiry, he said.

“There’s clearly an interest on the part of the NCAA and the university to be careful,” Roush said. “They’re not rushing to judgment because students are going to be affected by this and coaches might lose their jobs. I think people make a mistake when they assume that it’s taking so long.”

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