Former MU basketball coaching staff member Tony Harvey blames poor interviewing, few reliable documents and contradictory testimony as the basis of recruiting violation allegations leveled against him by the NCAA.
MU released a 57-page formal response Wednesday by Harvey, the former associate basketball coach who is one of the key players in the NCAA investigation. MU made its response to the NCAA investigation public with a 197-page response last week.
MU’s information regarding some allegations against Harvey conflicts with the information gathered by the NCAA’s Enforcement Staff, which, Harvey said, shows the enforcement staff displayed “questionable conduct.”
“Information that can be considered credible, persuasive and of a kind that a reasonably prudent person would rely upon in the conduct of serious affairs does not exist” in support of several allegations, the response said.
Erik Christianson, director of NCAA media relations, declined to comment on Harvey’s response, but added that “individuals who may have possibly committed violations have the opportunity to ... appear before the Committee on Infractions to respond.”
MU athletic department spokesman Sam Fleury said, “There has been a solid cooperation between the two entities and we have worked hand in hand with the NCAA throughout the entire process.”
Stu Brown, attorney for Harvey and former assistant coach Lane Odom, said Wednesday that the NCAA enforcement staff “has a history ... of making serious and damaging allegations based upon what could charitably be described as limited information.”
Harvey disputed six of 11 allegations against him. The university originally agreed with three of the six.
The first claim of the enforcement staff’s questionable conduct appears in the response to allegation 1-B, that Harvey improperly transported prospective student-athletes. The response highlights inconsistencies in the interviews of Maurice Ager and Walter Waters.
Specifically, it states that “Waters’ memory of off-campus rides from (Harvey), which he relates in the second portion of his interview, thoroughly contradicts recollections he shares earlier in his interview.”
Later in the interview, Harvey says in his response, the enforcement staff turned off the tape recorder for an unknown length of time to remind him not to provide misleading or false statements or he would risk jeopardizing his eligibility. “Waters then indicated to the writer that he would like to change information he provided regarding the visit to Missouri,” his response said.
The response states Waters provided information that “irreconcilably contradicts his prior testimony, and this lack of developed information frustrates any attempt at a thorough analysis of which of Waters’ stories is more believable.”
Harvey said that former player Ricky Clemons’ testimony regarding a more serious allegation — an alleged $250 payment — was unreliable and that the enforcement staff acted recklessly by publishing the allegation. An excerpt of Clemons’ testimony shows that he apparently denied ever receiving payments from coaches.
Clemons told an interviewer that he and other players were allotted a daily sum of money for meals during holiday breaks. But when asked if he received money outside of that context, Clemons said, “I mean — no.”
The response further questions the evidence of the allegation when NCAA investigators demonstrated “either significant investigative sloppiness or a conscious decision not to probe the integrity of (Clemons’) story.” The enforcement staff did not question the identity of those allegedly present at the time of the payment.
Brown cited similar sloppiness when the NCAA investigated two Auburn University basketball assistants for allegedly offering cash payments and other gifts to recruits. But evidence was poorly gathered and the men were cleared in April.