UNLV's powerhouse basketball program, already banned from 1992 postseason play because of NCAA sanctions, must now answer new and potentially more serious NCAA charges.
The NCAA has charged UNLV with a lack of institutional control over its basketball program in an investigation that stems from the university's recruitment of former New York City prep star Lloyd Daniels.In a letter of inquiry released Thursday by the university, the NCAA alleges Daniels was given a car and motorcycle by an assistant coach and had his bail paid by a booster after his arrest at a crack cocaine house.
In all, the NCAA alleges UNLV or its boosters committed a total of 29 violations, including a charge that a booster gave a former player $200 and a hotel room for signing an affidavit refuting allegations he made against the program.
Ten of the 29 allegations contained in the letter surround the 1986 recruitment of Daniels, including charges that members of the basketball staff lied to NCAA investigators looking for recruiting violations.
The charges allege a lack of institutional control in the recruitment of Daniels and also in the handling of money given athletes by assistant coaches and bills run up by players on road trips.
Additionally, the school is charged with violating NCAA regulations in recruiting other players, some of whom were allegedly given free plane tickets, basketball shoes, meals and other incidentals during their visits to the UNLV campus.
The 43-page letter of inquiry was released by the University of Nevada system, which deleted all names mentioned in the document in what the system's legal counsel said was an effort to protect them against charges which have yet to be proven.
Counsel Donald Klasic wrote in a cover letter to UNLV president Robert Maxson that releasing the names would make them "subject to obloquy and stigmatization within both the local and national communities."
UNLV has 60 days to respond to the allegations, following which the NCAA will set up a hearing with its Committee on Infractions where the validity of the allegations will be decided.
Maxson was not available for comment, but said Wednesday that the university would cooperate fully with the latest probe of the basketball program.
"When you find out you've made mistakes, you do whatever you have to do to correct them," Maxson said. "We're very anxious to get this cleared up and get the slate clean."
The letter of inquiry was received by the university Tuesday, three weeks after UNLV settled a 13-year battle between coach Jerry Tarkanian and the NCAA with an agreement that the Runnin' Rebels could not appear on live television or play in the postseason tournament in 1992. The defending national champions are currently undefeated and ranked No. 1.
The NCAA probe began in 1987 when Newsday printed allegations about the recruitment of Daniels, who never graduated from high school despite playing for five different schools. Daniels never played for UNLV after being arrested on drug charges and now is on the taxi squad of the Albany team in the Continental Basketball Association.
The NCAA charged that the university did not act properly in allowing then-assistant coach Mark Warkentein to become Daniels' legal guardian prior to his enrollment at UNLV, and that Warkentein "provided numerous improper living, travel and educational expenses to the young man."
The NCAA said UNLV allowed Warkentein to proceed with his attempts to become Daniels' legal guardian despite instructions from the Big West Conference to seek an official interpretation on the arrangement from the NCAA.
While his guardian, the NCAA alleged that Warkentein provided a car, motorcycle, tuition fees, cash and travel expenses, some of which was paid after the NCAA notified the university that the expenses were not permitted.
Daniels was also given a job by R&R Advertising, owned by Sig Rogich, now an adviser to President Bush, and given a car leased by Rogich to use full-time, the letter alleges.
Seven of the allegations claim that university officials or boosters acted "contrary to the principles of ethical conduct" and charged that several of them lied to NCAA investigators.
Other allegations in the letter include:
- The UNLV athletic department submitted an altered certificate of compliance to the NCAA for the 1986-87 basketball season after a staff member refused to sign the document "due to her knowledge of possible violations in the men's basketball program."
- At least one player was given reduced rates of between $70 and $125 a month for rent and utilities for a three-year period.
- A staff member took a recruit to dinner and to a nightclub, then on a visit to tour a local health club where many of the UNLV players practice in the off-season.
- Recruits were allowed to use athletic department credit cards for long distance calls, and allowed to make excessive room service and other hotel charges while on visits to Las Vegas.
- An assistant coach kept player scholarship money in a desk drawer and delivered rent and utility payments on behalf of players.
- Warkentein gave $500 to a woman to settle a traffic accident Daniels was involved in.
- A prospective recruit lived with a former player for a month at no cost and was given cash, food and transportation along with shoes and clothes and the use of the health club's basketball court.
- An assistant coach paid $150 cash for auto insurance for one player, and a $50 library fine so another player could meet a graduation deadline.
- At least two players were invited by a booster to have lunch at Caesars Palace, and the booster then left at least $20 on the table to pay for the meals.