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Friday, October 31, 2003
Arkansas investigating allegation of academic, financial wrongs

ESPN

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The University of Arkansas is investigating whether its basketball program violated NCAA rules as alleged by a former player who later played at Oklahoma State University and has made similar allegations against OSU.

Glendon Alexander, who quit the Razorbacks in December 1997, told Sports Illustrated that boosters gave him $10,000, that he didn't attend classes and that he sold his game tickets for a profit. The magazine said that an NCAA investigator met with Alexander last week.

After leaving Arkansas, the 6-4 guard transferred to Oklahoma State and was on the team that reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2000. He was not selected in that year's NBA draft.

Alexander, who is now in prison, made similar allegations about receiving payments while at Oklahoma State.

OSU Athletic Director Harry Birdwell said the school looked into the accusations, also published in the Sports Illustrated story, and found nothing.

"We never knew anything about him receiving any money," said OSU coach Eddie Sutton. "I was never contacted by Sports Illustrated. That's what bothers me."

The sports magazine also reported that OSU may be forced to repay more than $250,000 as a penalty for having had Alexander in uniform during the 1999 and 2000 NCAA tournaments.

Alexander was accused of a variety of scams, including the forgery of a check written to a Cowboy teammate, and was convicted of federal bank and wire fraud charges. He is in prison in Seagoville, Texas, and scheduled for release in 2006.

Scott Varady, a lawyer for the University of Arkansas, said Friday the university was examining Alexander's claims, regardless of the accuser's history or reputation.

"I do not sit and judge someone's credibility on something like this," Varady said. "We take everything seriously by saying, 'Here are the allegations. Is there any merit to them or not?"

Varady said the university has made initial contact with the NCAA enforcement office to discuss the case, but got no indication the NCAA was investigating.

"We will seek to consult with the NCAA because it was reported that a representative interviewed Mr. Alexander, so we will visit with them to see what if anything needs to be done. The sooner we can move forward on that front the better," Varady said.

NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes said NCAA rules preclude it from commenting on specific cases.

Nolan Richardson, Alexander's coach at Arkansas, told Sports Illustrated that Alexander is a "troublesome person, an habitual liar."

In 1996, Alexander sued to join the Razorbacks after the NCAA, Arkansas and the Southeastern Conference ruled him ineligible because of a low grade-point average and the lack of classes from a high school core curriculum. The case was settled with an agreement to let Alexander play for Arkansas, but Alexander quit after complaining that Richardson wasn't playing him enough.

In general, the NCAA has a four-year statute of limitations on violations, but can open an older case if it suspects a "blatant disregard" of NCAA rules.

According to Sports Illustrated, Alexander said his family received $75,000 in loans from a Dallas sports agent while he played at Arkansas and Oklahoma State.

The former player told the magazine that he was able to remain eligible despite paying no attention to his school work.

"I wasn't going to class -- none of the players were," Alexander said. "We just played basketball and hung out."

At the time, Arkansas athletic officials were watching the basketball program closely after revealing that the daughter of then-Chancellor Dan Ferritor had allegedly written papers for a player, among other allegations.

The magazine said Richardson asked questions after Alexander acquired a 1996 Ford Expedition. The former coach said the dealership told him the vehicle was paid for with a bad check written by someone else. The vehicle was returned.

"I asked the (salesman), how do you let someone write a check that is 20, 21 (a friend of Alexander's) for $10,000?" Richardson said. "He said, 'I'm trying to make a sale.' I said, 'You guys are ridiculous."

This year, the university settled a long-running NCAA investigation over improper payments to students who worked for a Dallas booster. Arkansas gave up a total of 10 football scholarships, one basketball scholarship and four basketball visits, and the entire sports program was placed on three years' probation.