NCAA investigators have returned to the UNLV campus, reportedly to look at failed efforts by the defending national basketball champions to recruit California prep star Ed O'Bannon.
The visits this week were treated as routine by UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, whose No. 1 Runnin' Rebels completed the regular season undefeated."They've been in 16, 17 times this year," Tarkanian said Tuesday. "That's their job. There's no secret that they've interviewed our people."
The Rebels (27-0) have been banned from 1992 TV and postseason play because of NCAA sanctions growing out of a battle with Tarkanian dating back to the mid-1970s. They also face 29 new allegations in a series of charges handed down by the NCAA in December. The university is expected to answer those charges by May 1.
KVBC-TV reported the latest visit by the investigators involved the recruiting of O'Bannon, who gave a verbal commitment to attend UNLV, then opted for UCLA after the Rebels were hit with an NCAA penalty last summer.
O'Bannon, who injured his knee in a practice before the season started, was redshirted this season on a medical provision.
The visit by enforcement investigators comes just days after the NCAA lifted, then quickly restored the eligibility of four UNLV players who violated NCAA rules by leaving unpaid a total of $129 in room service bills during recruiting visits. The four reportedly included starters Larry Johnson and George Ackles.
"The timing of investigative work is within the exclusive discretion of the NCAA enforcement staff," UNLV legal counsel Brad Booke said. "The university has no advance notice or control of investigative work."
Tarkanian has sparred with the NCAA since the early 1970s, when violations during his tenure as coach at Long Beach State led to that school being placed on probation after he had left for UNLV.
KVBC reporter Dan Burns said the investigators talked Monday with four players: Ackles, Johnson, H Waldman and Stacey Augmon. He said Ackles was O'Bannon's designated host during the Californian's official visit to UNLV on Feb. 18, 1990.
Booke said the O'Bannon visit was not among 29 charges listed against the university in December.
Tarkanian said NCAA investigators also talked to him Tuesday about "another school," which he wouldn't identify.