NCAA: Snyder ’failed’

The latest version of the NCAA’s violations clarifies allegations against MU athletic staffers.
Sunday, May 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:03 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The NCAA alleges that University of Missouri basketball coach Quin Snyder “failed at all times” to maintain an environment of rules compliance, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.

Snyder made multiple impermissible calls and personal contacts to recruiting prospects, provided impermissible meals for recruits and student-athletes and didn’t keep tabs on his staff’s compliance with rules, the NCAA asserts in its formal notice of allegations.

The university released the documents without blacking out names of university employees, in response to a request from the AP invoking Missouri’s Sunshine Law, which mandates open records and meetings by public governmental bodies.

Snyder and other athletic department staffers are declining comment while the NCAA proceedings are unresolved, spokesman Sam Fleury said Saturday. But during a news conference last week, Snyder acknowledged mistakes were made by the basketball program, for which he apologized, saying he takes full responsibility.

The university is to formally respond to the allegations by July 1, and hearings by the NCAA’s infractions committee are scheduled Aug. 13-15 in Seattle.

Last week, the university released a version of the notice of allegations that was heavily redacted, with names of school employees and University of Missouri students blacked out.

While the allegations were spelled out, it was left unclear which university staffers were accused of breaking NCAA rules and which athletes may have been involved.

The university maintained that blacking out the names was appropriate because of the Sunshine Law’s personnel exemption. But the law doesn’t require that any record be closed. It requires that openness is to be construed liberally and exemptions are to be construed narrowly. The personnel exemption deals only with hiring, firing, promoting or disciplining personnel, and there is no specific exemption for documents from outside entities, such as the NCAA.

The latest version of the allegations, received by the AP on Saturday, still obscures the names of students but clarifies allegations against athletic department staffers, including Snyder. The university’s top lawyer, Marvin “Bunky” Wright, said in a letter that the blacking out of student names was in compliance with federal privacy law.

Snyder is mentioned by name in 17 of the allegations, some covering multiple alleged rule violations.

Some of the alleged violations have been reported previously. For example, Snyder has already acknowledged giving troubled ex-player Ricky Clemons two pairs of pants and a pair of flip-flops that the coach received as promotional gifts. Such gifts are barred by NCAA rules.

The notice also says Snyder’s wife, Helen, “with Snyder’s approval,” provided food to an athlete, apparently Clemons, “in their home on various occasions.”

And it says that Helen Snyder provided an athlete, apparently Clemons, with “a belated Christmas gift” in February 2003, including a Nike book bag and a Nike winter coat.

By that point, Clemons had been arrested for a January 2003 incident in which he choked and detained then-girlfriend Jessica Bunge in the athlete’s Columbia apartment.

Clemons eventually pleaded guilty and served a 60-day sentence in a halfway house and the county jail. During his incarceration, Clemons was booted from the Tigers. He has moved to North Carolina. Both Clemons and Bunge have asserted in media interviews that he was paid by Missouri coaches, allegations Snyder and others have denied.

The NCAA alleged that not only did Snyder fail to monitor his staff’s compliance with rules, he broke some of the same rules himself.

For example, it alleged “the head coach failed to adequately reinforce the importance of adhering to NCAA legislation and supervise his coaching staff to ensure that multiple telephone calls were not made to prospects. In fact ... the head coach made a number of the impermissible telephone calls to prospects.”

The newly released documents also clarify which of Snyder’s staffers are accused of breaking rules. Assistant coach Lane Odom resigned last week, hours after the university released the redacted version of the allegations. Snyder’s top assistant, Tony Harvey, was placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the NCAA proceedings.

Stu Brown, the attorney representing Odom and Harvey, declined comment Saturday on the newest document release.

The only allegation of a cash gift in the NCAA documents is $250 that Harvey is supposed to have given Clemons. Harvey denied that allegation in an interview with the AP last week.

The unredacted version of the allegations also asserts that Harvey and Odom made multiple impermissible contacts or calls to prospective players. And Harvey is identified as the Missouri assistant who allegedly acted unethically by buying meals for Amateur Athletic Union coaches on multiple occasions, then misrepresenting who received the meals as he sought reimbursement from the school.

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