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Saturday, April 14, 2007
School pres. expects fair ruling in car dealership case

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- University President David Boren emerged from an NCAA Committee on Infractions hearing on Saturday believing Oklahoma got a "totally fair" opportunity to defend itself against allegations it failed to adequately monitor athletes' employment at a Norman car dealership.

Boren said most of the 4½-hour meeting was spent on the topic of a "failure to monitor" charge against the university, which has dismissed three players -- including starting quarterback Rhett Bomar -- from the football team for taking extra pay from the dealership.

"I would describe it as totally fair. We had every opportunity to present our case," Boren said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press following the hearing in Indianapolis.

In its written response to the NCAA allegations, Oklahoma said it strongly disagreed with the failure to monitor charge and claimed the rules violations would not have been uncovered if not for the university's "aggressive investigation."

Boren said Saturday that the NCAA restricted him from giving specifics about the meeting's contents.

"There were no new surprises," Boren said. "All of the issues that were discussed were issues that were already previously known."

Boren complimented the qualifications of the infractions committee, which he said included two judges and others with experience in intercollegiate athletics.

"I have a lot of confidence that a fair judgment will be rendered, and I don't really expect any surprises there," Boren said. "We have already so harshly punished ourselves."

In addition to self-imposed reductions in football scholarships and recruiting visits, 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.

"I think the committee had an understanding of the penalties that we assessed on ourselves," Boren said.

Boren noted that Oklahoma "had not disputed the facts regarding the players that were removed" and said the university agrees "that there were a couple of mistakes that were made."

He said it is now up to the committee to determine "whether these honest mistakes constituted failure to monitor." He said a decision could come in six weeks, but he expected the timeframe to more likely be two months.

Oklahoma was making its second appearance before the infractions committee in just under one year. On April 21 last year, the university had a hearing on charges regarding more than 550 impermissible recruiting calls made by former basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff.

Five weeks after that hearing, the infractions committee announced its decision to accept Oklahoma's self-imposed sanctions while adding additional penalties against Sampson, who had already moved on to his current position as Indiana's head basketball coach.

Boren said the previous appearance before the committee was not an issue Saturday, and he championed Oklahoma for demonstrating in both cases a commitment to teaching and upholding NCAA rules.

In this case, Boren pointed out that Bomar and the other players "knowingly decided to disobey the rules."

"That's the difficult thing," Boren said.

Boren recalled a meeting in his office hours after the violations had been proven through a university investigation in which he asked football coach Bob Stoops what action he wanted to take.

"Coach Stoops said immediately, `I want them off the team, because we want to make a statement about our values and what we stand for."'

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. Bomar transferred to Sam Houston State and Quinn to Montana.

"To me, I think our actions sent a message to the country that at OU, the integrity of our program comes before winning," Boren said.