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Wednesday, April 9, 2003
Villanova won't be sanctioned for Thomas affair

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- The NCAA will not sanction Villanova over allegations that Tim Thomas accepted lavish gifts from a man who wanted to be his agent, the school said Wednesday.

Villanova officials said the NCAA had determined that too much time had passed since the alleged violation, in the 1996-1997 school year. Thomas left after that season, his only one at the school, to enter the NBA draft.

He now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.

NCAA rules generally limit inquiries to violations alleged to have taken place within the last four years, the school said.

"We were pleased to learn of the NCAA's decision," Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro said in a written statement. "Any allegation of wrongdoing is something we take very seriously."

In December, a clothing store owner in Thomas' hometown of Paterson, N.J., filed suit against Thomas, claiming the player dumped him as his agent just weeks before signing an NBA contract and an endorsement deal worth a combined $18 million.

Ahmad Matari claimed in the federal suit that he showered Thomas with gifts, including cash, clothing, a refrigerator, a television, a VCR and a car, during his freshman year after Thomas agreed to make him his agent once he turned pro.

Thomas denied the allegations.

Nicastro added that the school doesn't plan to investigate further, but would monitor the court case and retain the option of disciplining itself if the charges are proven.

"As an institution, we would probably take further action. What that would be, I'm not sure. We wouldn't just ignore it," he said.

Villanova disciplined 12 of its own players this year when it learned they violated NCAA rules by using a school access code to make long-distance phone calls. The suspensions, ranging from three to eight games, were staggered to allow Villanova to field a seven-man team at the end of the season.