Friday, March 30, 2007
Sooners dispute allegations of improper monitoring
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma "strongly disagrees" with the NCAA's allegation that the university failed to adequately monitor the employment of dismissed starting quarterback Rhett Bomar and other athletes at a Norman car dealership, according to documents released by the university Friday.
"We ... assert that the University met, if not exceeded, industry standards regarding our student-athlete employment monitoring," university president David Boren said in a letter dated March 7, which was obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request.
"There were no other reasonable additional steps we could have taken that would have prevented these violations or detected them any sooner," Boren said in the letter.
The NCAA has claimed that Oklahoma violated its own guidelines by failing to collect earnings statements from 12 football players who worked at the dealership, and as a result did not detect NCAA rules violations.
Bomar has been ordered by the NCAA to pay back more than $7,400 in extra benefits to charity, while offensive lineman J.D. Quinn was told to pay back more than $8,100. Both players were dismissed from the program and transferred to Division I-AA schools -- Bomar to Sam Houston State and Quinn to Montana.
Oklahoma has redacted the names of the athletes from its documents. Seventeen players in all are mentioned at some point in the university's response to the NCAA.
Oklahoma has claimed the players did not complete required forms, and that the university was transitioning duties at a time when the NCAA alleges that Oklahoma failed to collect some of its monitoring forms in a timely manner.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions has requested athletic director Joe Castiglione, football coach Bob Stoops, compliance officials, general counsel Joseph Harroz and director of football operations Merv Johnson attend a hearing on the allegations April 14 in Indianapolis.
Oklahoma also appeared before the committee last April following an investigation into hundreds of improper recruiting phone calls by former basketball coach Kelvin Sampson's staff.
In its written response to the NCAA, Oklahoma claims that the scheme of Bomar, Quinn and the former general manager of the dealership at which they worked, Brad McRae, "would not have been uncovered if not for the University's aggressive investigation" as well as the cooperation of the management and ownership of the dealership, Big Red Sports and Imports, after the dealership changed hands.
Oklahoma said that to have learned of the deception earlier than it did, the university would have had to require copies of time-clock records, paycheck stubs and W-2 tax information, that such a requirement was "unrealistic" and that even if additional monitoring had occurred, it wouldn't have caught the violations in the case.
"Compliance monitoring systems across the nation ... are only designed to monitor reported employment and determine inconsistencies, which is exactly what our system did," the university said.
Oklahoma said that the NCAA should applaud, not penalize, its efforts to root out violations and noted that NCAA president Myles Brand told one news outlet that the university "acted with integrity in taking swift and decisive action" in the case.
Oklahoma asked the NCAA to "look at the overall picture and make a strong statement to the NCAA membership -- i.e., that those institutions that set the right tone, that do the right things, that continue to enhance their programs, and that aggressively investigate and punish wrongdoers will not be charged and labeled by unnecessary and unfitting charges.
"The University of Oklahoma stands for principal [sic], and all the actions we took in this matter illustrate that character."
Oklahoma has banned athletes from working at the car dealership until at least the 2008-09 academic year and has moved to prevent the athletes' supervisor at the dealership from being involved with the university's athletics program.
Oklahoma also will reduce the number of football coaches who are allowed to recruit off campus this fall.
Stoops has said the players "knowingly" broke the rules.