The chairman of the University of Idaho's art department denies he intentionally plagiarized a leading art history book when he published his own copyrighted workbook.

And university officials who formed a committee to investigate the issue support chairman Frank Cronk's contention."It think it was sloppy," said George Simmons, dean of of the university's College of Art and Architecture. "I think it was inattentive. But I don't think it was criminal."

But Thomas Bell, academic vice president, re-fuses to release the findings of an internal investigation conducted last year or reveal whether disciplinary action was taken against Cronk.

State law allows that information to be kept confidential, Bell said.

Passages on seven pages of Cronk's copyrighted workbook for an introductory art history class virtually mirror some in "Gardner's Art through the Ages" by Helen Gardner.

The rest of Cronk's copyrighted workbook is a list of slides for students to use in taking notes.

Meanwhile, university officials say they have placed roughly $1,400 in royalties collected from the workbook sale during the 1989-90 school year in a scholarship fund for art students.

Simmons said the school now intends to contact the publisher of "Gardner's Art through the Ages," Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, to see if it wants any of the royalties.

The incident earlier prompted Bell to notify university administrators of the university's copyright policy. The policy is now being revised.

"(The book by) Helen Gardner is the most popular art history book in the world," Cronk said. "Of all the books in the world to plagiarize, I mean, come on."

He said the workbook was sold in a Moscow business for a few years before he was told he would have to copyright it if he wanted to collect royalties from its sale to offset expenses, such as the cost of copying tests for the large introductory art history classes.

Cronk said he pulled Gardner's text out of his workbook before he sent a copy to the Library of Congress and applied for copyright registration in June 1989. School records said it was registered with the library in January 1990.

But Cronk said Gardner's text was left in another copy of his copyrighted workbook that was sent to a Moscow copier to be reproduced and sold to students because he did not review that copy. He assumed another instructor would review that edition before it was sent out.

Students in the introductory art history class in that year paid $10.45 for Cronk's workbook, including $2.50 in royalties. Cronk said he "released" his copyright registration last August when school officials told him he could no longer collect royalties, based on an attorney's advice.