Alumni support still positive

Many are relieved the NCAA sanctions were not worse.
Friday, November 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:33 a.m. CDT, Thursday, June 26, 2008

A day after the NCAA announced its sanctions against the Missouri men’s basketball program, the prevailing mood Thursday at the university was relief that the findings weren’t worse.

Although the NCAA found MU had committed numerous infractions, it did not find evidence to support some of the most serious charges, including academic dishonesty and cash payment of players.

“I think it’s fair to characterize our team’s evaluation as one of guarded relief,” Michael Devaney, MU faculty council president, said. “Of the 11 infractions contested, the committee ruled against the university in only two cases.”

The committee cited violations relating to impermissible extra benefits and inadequate examination of compliance rules.

It also rejected the university’s claim that the majority of the violations were isolated or inadvertent.

People around the university echoed Devaney’s sentiments.

“Mostly, I’m just glad that the investigation is over,” Al Eberhard said.

Eberhard was an All-Big Eight forward for the Tigers in 1975. He was inducted into the Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.

Now, he helps the MU business school with fund raising.

“I’ve been away from the game for a long time, so it’s hard for me to comment on the sanctions,” Eberhard said. “Recruiting and everything has changed so much since my day, but I’m very hopeful these sanctions won’t damage the Missouri basketball program.”

Fund raising is a key issue for MU. The university is in the middle of its “For All We Call Mizzou” campaign, a major effort aimed at generating more than $600 million.

The university’s goal is to raise $100 million in private donations. Relationships with alumni

and donors are central to reaching that mark. According to MU, the NCAA situation hasn’t affected those relationships.

“I haven’t heard of a single alum calling in or expressing reservations because of the NCAA investigation,” MU spokesman Jeremy Diener said. “Generally speaking, situations in athletics don’t affect the academic side of fund raising. It may or may not affect the athletic side.”

The athletic side seems to be weathering the NCAA storm relatively well.

The athletic department’s budget is $40.5 million for the 2005 fiscal year, up from $38 million in 2004. The increase resulted from a revenue bump stemming from ticket sales at Paige Sports Arena.

Season tickets have been sold out since August, despite the NCAA’s investigation, which has been ongoing since the arena’s construction.

The athletic department has already exceeded its initial goal of $60 million in the “For All We Call Mizzou” effort. The department has raised more than $102 million, thanks largely to a $10 million single donation from the Kansas City Sports Trust in March.

MU Athletic Director Mike Alden declined to comment for this article.

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